04/02/2011

A History Lesson

If you are anything like me you have been watching the events unfolding in Egypt with real interest. The first thing I have discovered is that I really know very little about the history of that country. 

Oh, I am old enough to remember the Suez crisis, King Farouk living in exile, President Nassar, Anwar Sadat being shot and the six day war. Presidant Mubarak’s ruling party is called the NDP which I find kind of ironic  I don't know know a hell of a lot beyond that.

I expect most of you,  not unlike me, are struggling to put together the puzzle.

This historical time line was put together by  Facts-about and the BBC. It helps a bit to add context.

1100s Christian Crusaders from Europe invade Egypt
1168 The Fatimid ruler receives help from Saladin who forces the Crusaders out of Egypt
1171 Saladin overthrows the Fatimid ruler and becomes the sultan of Egypt forming the Ayyubid dynasty
1250 The Mamelukes seized control of Egypt andBaybars, the Mameluke general, became sultan
1517 Ottoman forces invaded Egypt
Mid 1700s The Ottomans and the Mamelukes competed for Egyptian control
1798 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt and the Mamelukes were defeated in the Battle of the Pyramids
1801 The French were forced out of Egypt by the Ottomans, with the help of the British
1805 - 1849 Muhammad Ali, an officer in the Ottoman army, established himself as the ruler of Egypt and the Mamelukes
1854-1863 Said Pasha ruled Egypt
1859 The construction of the Suez Canal began
1869 The Suez Canal opened and the British bought the Egyptian shares
1882 British take control of Egypt
Late 1800s-Early 1900s The Egyptian khedive ruled Egypt overseen by British administrators
1914-1918 World War I
1914 Egypt becomes a British protectorate
1922 Egypt is granted its independence and an Egyptian constitutional monarchy is established
1939 - 1945 World War II
1940 Italian and German troops invade Egypt to try and capture the Suez Canal
1942 The Allies halt the German advance in the Battle of El Alamein
1945 Egypt formed the Arab League with other Arab nations
1947 The United Nations vote to divide Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state
1948 Israel was formed which prompted Egypt and other Arab nations to go to war
1952 King Farouk (His full title was "His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan, and of Darfur.") is overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution and was forced to abdicate.   He died in exile in Italy.  
1953 Egypt was declared a republic
1954 - Nasser becomes prime minister and later, in 1956, president.
1954 - Evacuation Treaty signed. British forces, who began a gradual withdrawal in 1936 finally leave Egypt.
1956 July - Nasser nationalises the Suez Canal to fund the Aswan High Dam.
1950s Egypt supported the Palestinian Arabs to regain control of Palestine from the Israelis
October 1956 Israel invaded Egypt and occupied the Sinai Peninsula
1958 Syria and Egypt formed a political union called the United Arab Republic
1961 Syria withdrew from the U.A.R.
5 June 1967 The Six Day War 
1968 The Aswan High Dam opened
1971 Sadat changed the official name of the country to the Arab Republic of Egypt
1978 The Camp David Accords and Sadat meets with Israeli Prime Minster Menachem Begin in the USA. The agreement guaranteed the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt
1979 Egypt was removed from the Arab League, because other Arab nations felt the Sadat had given up too much in the agreements with Israel
1981 6 October - Anwar al-Sadat is assassinated by Jihad members.
1981 October - A National Referendum approves Husni Mubarak as the new president.

Over the next 30 years Mubarek is repeatedly re-elected supported by the USA to the tune of $1 billion a year most of which goes to supporting the military. Opposition politicians are arrested and jailed, there have been accusations of rigged elections and internal unrest grows.

The very interesting thing about the current protests is that they are not Islamic radical groups, it is not the omans stirring dissent it is a grassroots movement of people who need jobs and who want to live within a freer society.

We may very well be seeing a true Arab renaissance unfolding before our eyes. Watch closely.



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