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The modern Pharaoh: Who is Mehemet Ali Pasha?

Muhammad or Mehemet (in Turkish) Ali spoke only Turkish and was illiterate: He could not read or write in any language until he was in his 50’s.  A few European consuls suspected that Mehemet understood Arabic but faked his ignorance in order to double-check on the accuracy of the translation

Mehemet Ali lived in an environment of Turkish culture and believed that “White colored” people (including the Turks) were far more intelligent, more brave, more educated, and more developed than the Egyptians.

To Mehemet Ali, forcing military service on the Egyptian peasants was a necessity that drives this racist law: The Albanian and Turkish mercenaries rebelled several times and Mehemet had to constitute a national army, a new order army or Nizam Jadid.

His son Ibrahim had at several occasions pressed Mehemet to consider training the Egyptian to carrying arms in his army, but Ibrahim had to wait long time before necessity knocks on the door: Mehemet had extended his territory to all Sudan and the Arabic Peninsula, and he needed a large modern army, trained by the French!

Till the end of his life, Mehemet valued Turkish soldiers and officers as more capable administrators and soldiers than the Egyptians, although the Egyptian soldiers and officers are the ones who won the battles against the Turkish Ottoman army in more than 4 critical battles in Syria.

Mehemet Ali would warn his son Ibrahim: “Never place the Egyptian soldiers in front lines: They will prefer to be prisoners than fight. Never place the Egyptian soldiers in the rear lines: They will flea and retreat. Always make sure that Egyptian regiments are placed in sandwich between Turkish officers…”

Mehemet Ali managed to train a national army or Nizam Jadid.  At first, the forced soldiers from Sudan did not survive the harsh life of camp confinement, and Mehemed decided to try enlisting by force the Egyptian peasants. The Egyptians tried their best to avoid joining the army: They mutilated a thumb, fingers, hands, an eye…in order not to be considered fit for the army.

By the by, after the first initiation to military life and the donning of military outfit, the Egyptian soldier began to boast that he is a soldier in “Mehemet army

Ibrahim Pasha was different from his father Mehemet Ali.

British Prime Minister Palmerston was very worried that Ibrahim might succeed his father because he was a brilliant administrator,  a modern man, a military general who won all his battles against far more numerous armies, and he considered the Egyptians as Arabs and his people…

Ibrahim was raised in an environment that spoke Arabic, in addition to Turkish.  And he led armies constituted of mostly Arabic speaking soldiers and Egyptian peasants…Ibrahim is heard of saying: “I will lead my army as far as there are people speaking Arabic…”

Ibrahim led armies in current Saudi Arabia and quelled the Wahhabi sect tribes, who were funded and armed by the British.  He entered Sudan and conquered it. He won four critical battles against the Ottoman armies and could easily enter Istanbul twice and become the new Sultan.

The European called Ibrahin “Son of Napoleon“.  He ruled Syria and his administrative period of less than 8 years was the most prosperous and most modern time for the Syrian people, extending from Adana in Turkey, current Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan.

Note 1

Note 2: Article taken from the book “The last Pharaoh” by Gilbert Sinoue




March 2023

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