Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Monarch Profile: Ismail the Magnificent, Khedive of Egypt
One of his accomplishments (though it took some time) was to obtain Ottoman recognition of his title as Khedive of Egypt. He and his predecessors had used the title for some time in Egypt but the Ottoman Sultan still only recognized them as basically provincial governors. However, Egypt was already effectively independent of Turkish rule but there was still a desire to maintain titular links to the Ottoman Empire and of course the religious links with the Sultan who was the Caliph of Islam. In 1867, in return for greater tribute payments, the Sultan finally recognized Ismail Pasha as Khedive of Egypt. Further, the Sultan authorized a change in the rules of succession to allow the throne to pass from father to son rather than brother to brother which Khedive Ismail hoped would bring greater stability to the country. In 1873 the Ottoman Sultan also recognized the full autonomy of Egypt from the government in Constantinople, giving official sanction to what had already been the actual state of affairs for some time. From a distance, it may seem rather trivial but these were important steps in maintaining peace between Ottoman Turkey and Egypt, achieving all but a recognition of Egyptian independence on the part of Turkey while maintaining the country as a nominal part of the wider Ottoman Empire. This recognition also helped Egypt in diplomacy with other foreign powers.
The new industries growing up in Egypt brought with them a need for natural resources and this, combined with a desire to assert regional supremacy and gain greater respect on the world stage, prompted Khedive Ismail to embark on a campaign of expansion to the south. His goal was to extend Egyptian control up the entire length of the Nile and to dominate the entire Red Sea coast. Many of these areas had, in the past, been claimed by the Ottoman Empire at the height of Turkish expansion and, as Egypt was still nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, this gave Egypt at least some grounds for moving south. In preparation, the Khedive had also endeavored to build up the Egyptian army and hire veteran soldiers from foreign countries to modernize the military. Many of those who were brought in were Americans fresh from the Civil War. General Thaddeus P. Mott, a veteran of the Union army and numerous conflicts around the world, gained rank in the Ottoman army and was enlisted by Khedive Ismail to recruit American military experts for service in Egypt. A number of officers were enlisted with recommendations from none other than Union General William T. Sherman and those Americans (from both Union and Confederate armies) included such men as Generals Charles P. Stone (another Union army veteran) and Henry H. Sibley and William W. Loring (former Confederate generals). Coastal defenses and the artillery were improved a great deal.