The British Occupation of Egypt in 1882
Mixed reactions were rampant with reference to the occupation. The European had various opinions and reasons for occupying the country including promotion of trade and development of perceptions and civilization in the country. On the other hand, the Egyptians felt their land was being taken, and their heritage was being taken away from them as well. Both reactions of resistance and collaboration led to different results in the country. The results were both positive and negative to the people especially concerning the economic sector. There is a great relationship between the historical occupation and economy.
Origin of the Occupation
After constructing and opening the Suez Canal in 1869, the significance of Egypt to Europe rose considerably. At a stroke, there was an emergent route linking Europe to the Far East. The opening of the Suez Canal saw Egypt develop rapidly along the western lines (Goldberg 10). With the increased development of Egypt along the western segment, the tension between the country and Britain slowly increased leading to the attack of Egypt by Britain in 1882. Egypt had been a nominal part of the Ottoman Empire from 1805. However, Muhammad Ali ruled the country effectively with his modernizing and strong rule. Under this leader, the country had benefited immensely by 1869 from its French and British investments in schools, plantations, cotton, railways and irrigation.
However, another ruler, Khedive Ismail Pasha had seen the country run immense debts. Therefore, in order to prevent Egypt from running into a financial crisis, the ruler sold 45% of his holdings in the Suez Canal to the British administration in 1875. The sale of his holdings increased the British interest in Egypt. That is; the sale of the holdings opened an avenue for Britain to access Egypt. The British government had to conduct follow-up and exercise oversight over the Suez Canal because of its shares in it (Owen 10). With continual access to the Suez Canal, Britain developed other interests in Egypt, which led to the invasion in 1882.
The Occupation and Economy
The occupation of the British in Egypt was an avenue for Egypt experience economic integration into the world system of economy. Egypt passed while integrating into the world system of economy through three distinct stages. With the British in place, the process o economic integrations and transformation in the country was fastened. These three stages of economic transformation and integration include commercial integration, financial and commercial integration and political, financial and commercial integration (Owen 45). The country went through these stages starting from the early nineteenth century to the late nineteenth century. By the time, Britain was occupying the country in 1882; the country was in its third stage of economic integrations and development (Goldberg 29).
Political, Financial and Commercial Integration
This was the third stage of economic integration in the country. When the British occupied the country, they facilitated this stage. There was an emergence of warfare after the invasion. As people struggled and resisted the British occupation, the economic sector was slowly deteriorating (Owen 38). People spent much time in warfare, uprisings and rebellions while neglecting to improve and develop the economic sector. Many economically able people lost their lives in then rebellions (Goldberg 15). Additionally, the rebellions led the disruption of the economy with the destruction of property of immense value (Kusha 24).
The occupation led to the growth of domestic production in Egypt and redefined the structural changes in the agricultural sector with improvements in the irrigation methods and schemes (Kusha 30). Additionally, there was the decaying of the local handicrafts, which were replaced by the modern industrial systems, most of which later failed (Goldberg 23). The improved methods of irrigation and infrastructure led to improved transportation systems and an immense increase in the volume of exports and imports in Egypt.
The growing influences of the British finance and trade fundamentally altered the economic structure of Egypt. There was a shift in the economic segment of Egypt with emergent economic structures including fixed patterns of financial, industrial and agricultural activity. These new patterns in the economic sector aimed to promote less dependent forms of economic development (The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914 18).
The transformation and modernization of the Egyptian economic sector took place under the existent system of British occupation. The British saw that it was essential to reform the economic sector of Egypt to preserve and maintain order and economic stability in the country (Owen 23). Therefore, the British used its indirect rule system of ruling to reorganize the administration of the country for smooth execution of economic developments (Goldberg 17). The main concern of British was to re-establish the necessary mechanisms over the finances of Egypt (Kusha 29). They did so by establishing a mission of control through appointments of French and British financial adviser t represent its interests and supervise crucial decisions affecting the revenue and expenditure of the existent leader (British Occupation of Egypt 39).
The British occupation of Egypt was some form of economic imperialism. The British prevalence in Egypt was important because it enabled Egypt to settle its debts and improve its financial situation (Goldberg 28). The rights of interference on the internal affairs of Egypt, especially the financial sector, exercised by the existent European powers led to the increased intervention of Britain in Egypt. For instance, the Law of Liquidation limited about 50% of Egypt (British Occupation of Egypt 29).
Initially, the revenues raised in Egypt went to the Caisse de la Dette Publique, a financial international body that enabled the French and the British to control Egypt’s finances (British Occupation of Egypt 25). Since the British and the French were rivals, the British occupation of Egypt enabled Britain to be the major controller of finances in Egypt. The British serviced the debt that Egypt had in terms of the pledge during construction of the Suez Canal (Owen 15).
One of the principal policies of Britain in Egypt was to evacuate the country immediately after restoration of the order regarding the administrative and economic aspects of the country. In this case, the British would withdraw from the country without any concerns for projected disturbances that would affect the priorities and interest in Egypt (The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914 15). For the British, it was important to secure the stability of Egypt in order to prevent any internal turbulence that would deny them control of the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal was the major route of the British to the east (Goldberg 22).
The capitulations resulted in the control of the economy of Egypt by the British merchants who enjoyed taxation privileges. Sir Evelyn Baring was able to balance the budget of the state through the introduction of reforms in the irrigation projects in the country (The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914 14). Some of the reforms in the irrigation project were the construction of the Aswan Dam between 1898 and 1902, reconstruction of the Delta Barrage and excavation of more canals these reforms promoted the agricultural sector in Egypt (Owen 11).
There was an increase in agricultural productions, which translated to higher revenue from the agricultural sector. The reconstruction of the Nile Barrage was a core concern to generate more revenues (British Occupation of Egypt 33). The Delta Barrage helped in the provision of sufficient water throughout the year at higher levels (Buzpinar 13). There was an emphasis on the use of hydraulics in agricultural development by remodeling the existent irrigation systems using hydraulic engineers of Anglo-Indian origins (The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914 23).
Involvement of the rural labors in the irrigation projects included draining, clearing and digging the canals. The British inspectors monitored and supervised the irrigation (British Occupation of Egypt 32). With increased efforts in the irrigation system, there was a considerable increase in the agricultural output including rice, wheat, maize and sugar (The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914 28).
During the British occupation, there was immense agricultural-led economic development with the improvement in the transportation system through the construction of 2400 kilometers agricultural roads (Buzpinar 28). As such, these roads facilitated the movement of goods within the country from the farms to the markets. Additionally, the roads facilitated the movement of agricultural input from the manufacturers to the farmers (Goldberg 33). The improved infrastructure led to economic improvement in relation to the agricultural sector.
The reforms in agriculture introduced by Britain during their occupation in Egypt increased the wealth of thee country (Buzpinar 38). That is, during the occupation of Britain in Egypt, the agricultural output increased immensely (Russell 17). With the increase in agricultural output, the rights of private property in lands became incentives. The British occupation also led to reforms in the taxation system (The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914 58). These reforms in the taxation enabled the country to raise more revenue.
In summary, the British occupation of Egypt led to tremendous development and growth in the economy of the country. The occupation led to increased agricultural production with improvements in the irrigation projects, improved infrastructure and a change in the taxation system. Improved infrastructure through construction of roads facilitated the transportation of goods within the country. All these transformations led to an immense growth in the economy of the country.
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