Western penetration of Egypt
Muhammad Ali built a modern state in Turkish held Egypt that attracted European traders. He drafted the peasants, reformed the government, and improved communications. The peasants lost out because the land was converted from self-sufficient farms to large, private landholdings to grow cash crops for export. Ismail continued the modernization of Egypt, including the completion of the Suez Canal, but also drew the country deeply into debt. To prevent Egypt from going bankrupt, Britain and France intervened politically. Foreign financial control provoked a violent nationalistic reaction in Egypt that led to British occupation of the country until 1956.
Beginning in the 1800s, imperialism was also practiced in the Middle East. The prime attraction for most European nations was the presence of vast oil fields. The machinery produced as a result of the Industrial Revolution required oil to keep numerous moving parts lubricated. As the internal combustion engine became more popular around 1900, oil was also needed as a fuel. Strategic Location
Strategy also played a major role in the European conquest of the Middle East through imperialism. Two areas that Europe paid particular attention to were the Suez Canal and Palestine. Suez Canal
The French originally set out to build the Suez Canal in 1859. However, Britain soon became jealous because of the potential impact the shortcut between the Mediterranean and Red Seas could have on trade with its Indian colony. In 1875, the British wrested financial control of the Suez Canal away from the French, and eventually made all of Egypt a protectorate in 1882. Palestine
After WWI, the newly formed League of Nations gave Great Britain a mandate over Palestine. Palestine's location on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea seemed like a great prize to the British, but...
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