CB39. EGYPT. TIMELINE 1900 TO THE PRESENT

28 Oct CB39. EGYPT. TIMELINE 1900 TO THE PRESENT

Egypt has 104 million people. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing back to the 6000 to 4000 BCE. Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central or parliamentary government. Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity but was largely Islamised in the 700 to 800 CE, and it remains a predominantly Muslim country. Due to the importance of the Suez Canal (the artificial waterway in Egypt connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea), built by Egypt and France, the British had a large military presence in Egypt to ensure free ship movement for controlling its many colonies, including India and Malaya. In 1922, Egypt gained independence from Britain, but in name only. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting armed conflicts with Israel. Between 1967 and 1975 (8 years), the Suez Canal was blocked by Egypt following the war with Israel. In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords, officially withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. Egypt continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt’s current government is authoritarian and has been described by a few watchdogs as perpetuating problematic human rights record. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara Desert which constitute most of Egypt’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt’s residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta. Egypt has a diversified economy, which is the 2nd largest in Africa.

  1. In about 2,000 words, I will describe major events that affected Egypt from 1900 to the present.
  2. 1900 – A year earlier, in 1899, the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement was signed – the Agreement stated that Sudan would be jointly governed by the Khedivate of Egypt and the British. However, actual control of Sudan was in British hands only.
  3. 1902 – Inauguration of the Aswan Dam and the Assiut Barrage (another dam) help control the Nile River flood.
  4. 1906 – The Denshawai incident prompted many neutral Egyptians to join the nationalist movement. The Denshawai incident is the name given to a dispute between British Army officers (who were hunting pigeons for sport) and locals in Denshawai in Egypt (who were upset as pigeons were a source of food). One officer died and locals were ‘caught’ and then hanged (one in front of his own house and family members which was abnormal).
  5. 1914 (to 1918) – World War One. The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) entered war in alliance with the Central Empires (including Germany). Khedive Abbas II of Egypt, who had grown increasingly hostile to the British in preceding years, decided to support the motherland (Ottoman / Turkey) in war. Following such decision, the British forcibly removed Khedive Abbas II from power and replaced him with his brother Hussein Kamel. Hussein Kamel declared Egypt’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, assuming the title of Sultan of Egypt.
  6. 1914 – Shortly following independence from Ottoman (Turkey), Egypt formally becomes a British protectorate.
  7. 1919 (to 1922) – After World War One, Saad Zaghul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement to a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Saad Zaghlul and his associates to Malta on 8 March 1919, the country arose in its first modern revolution. The revolt led the United Kingdom government to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt’s independence on 22 February 1922. Britain was most keen to keep the Suez Canal free for ship movement.    
  8. 1922 – Sultan Fuad I becomes king as Egypt gains independence, although British influence remains significant until 1950s. Britain maintains a large military presence.
  9. 1922 – The tomb of young pharaoh Tutankhamun is discovered.
  10. 1923 (to 1924) – The new government drafted and implemented a constitution based on a parliamentary system. The nationalist Wafd Party won a landslide victory in the election and Saad Zaghlul was appointed as the new Prime Minister.
  11. 1928 – Muslim Brotherhood is founded by Hassan al-Banna (who is later killed in 1949). Muslim Brotherhood campaigns to reorient Egypt and whole Muslim Middle East away from Western influence.
  12. 1936 – The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty is concluded, and British troops withdrew from Egypt, except for the Suez Canal (where it would only leave in 20 years).
  13. 1939 (to 1945) – World War Two. Egypt declared martial law and broke off diplomatic relations with Germany. It did not declare war on Germany. It also broke diplomatic relations with Italy in 1940, never declared war, not even when the Italian army invaded Egypt. Britain used Egypt as a base for Allied operations throughout the region, especially the battles in North Africa against Italy and Germany.
  14. 1939 (to 1945) – World War Two. There was a vocal element in Egypt that saw the Germans as potential liberators. Students held rallies in support of German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel whose tanks went into Egypt from Libya (pushed back by British General Bernard Montgomery). A small number of Egyptian officers, including future presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat plotted to aid the German advance on their city. Young Anwar Sadat was later imprisoned by the British for conspiring with German spies.
  15. 1942 – In a ministerial crisis, King Farouk was forced by the British to appoint a new Wafd-coalition government (British troops had surrounded the palace in Cairo). The humiliation meted out to King Farouk, and the actions of the Wafd in cooperating with the British and taking power, lost support for both the British and the Wafd among both civilians and, more importantly, the Egyptian military.
  16. 1948 – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria attack the new state of Israel. Egyptian army’s poor performance increases unpopularity of King Farouk.
  17. 1949 – Committee of the Free Officers’ Movement is formed to overthrow the corrupt monarchy.
  18. 1952 – At least 20 people are killed in anti–British riots in Cairo.
  19. 1952 – A coup by the Free Officers’ Movement is organised by Gamal Abdel Nasser. King Farouk abdicates in favour of his infant son Ahmed Fuad II.
  20. 1953 – Coup leader Muhammad Najib becomes president as Egypt is declared a republic.
  21. 1954 (to 1956) – Fellow coup leader Gamal Abdel Nasser becomes prime minister and in 1956 president, ruling unchallenged until his death in 1970.
  22. 1954 – Evacuation Treaty is signed. British forces, who began a gradual withdrawal under the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, finally leave Egypt.
  23. 1955 – Prime Minister Nasser reorients Egypt away from West towards neutrality and buys arms from Communist Czechoslovakia.
  24. 1956 – Egypt and Britain relinquish control over Sudan (which was established at the end of the 19th century) – and Sudan gains independence.
  25. 1956 – President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalises the Suez Canal to fund the Aswan High Dam, after Britain and USA withdraw from financing the dam.
  26. 1956 – Invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel over nationalisation of Suez Canal fails through USA opposition, greatly enhancing President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s standing at home and abroad.
  27. 1958 – President Gamal Abdel Nasser steps up campaign to promote pan-Arab unity, most visible sign of which is the brief United Arab Republic unitary state including Syria (1958–61). He also supports friendly elements in Lebanese and North Yemen conflicts, to little avail.
  28. 1961 (to 1966) – President Gamal Abdel Nasser adopts socialist policies, including nationalisation of industry and an ambitious welfare programme, combined with repression of Muslim Brotherhood and leftist opponents, in an unsuccessful attempt to boost the economy and the popularity of his government.
  29. 1967 – Egypt expels United Nations buffer forces from Sinai and closes the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, then signs defence pact with Jordan. Israel interprets this as preparation for war.
  30. 1967 – Israeli pre-emptive attack defeats Egypt, Jordan and Syria, leaving it in control of Sinai up to the Suez Canal and Egyptian-occupied Gaza – the Six Day War. Emergency Law is imposed which largely suspends civil rights. This remains in force until 2012, with a brief break of 18 months in early 1980s.
  31. 1967 – President Gamal Abdel Nasser resigns but is returned to power by popular demand.
  32. 1970 – President Gamal Abdel Nasser at 52 dies of a heart attack, having never recovered his leading role among Arab states after the 1967 defeat, and is succeeded by Vice-President Anwar Sadat.
  33. 1971 – The Aswan High Dam is completed, with Soviet funding, and has a huge impact on irrigation, agriculture and industry in Egypt.
  34. 1972 – President Anwar Sadat expels Soviet advisers and reorients Egypt towards the West, while launching an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to open the economy to market forces and foreign investment.
  35. 1973 – Egypt and Syria go to war with Israel to reclaim land lost in 1967 during the Six Day War. Although the Egyptians are repulsed and Israel threatens Cairo, the war is seen as an Egyptian success. Egypt begins negotiations for the return of Sinai after the war.
  36. 1975 – The Suez Canal is re-opened for the first time since the 1967 Six Day War.
  37. 1977 – “Bread riots” in major cities against end to subsidies on basic foodstuffs under agreement with World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
  38. 1977 – President Anwar Sadat visits Israel, beginning process that leads to the 1979 peace treaty, the return of occupied Sinai Peninsula, and Egypt’s suspension from Arab League (until 1989). Egypt becomes major beneficiary of USA financial aid.
  39. 1981– President Anwar Sadat is assassinated by Islamist extremists a month after clampdown on private press and opposition groups in wake of anti–government riots. He is succeeded by Vice-President Hosni Mubarak.
  40. 1981 – President Hosni Mubarak reimposes state of emergency, restricting political activity, freedom of expression and assembly.
  41. 1986 – Army is deployed in Cairo to crush mutiny by Central Security paramilitary police.
  42. 1988 – Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz becomes the first Arab to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  43. 1991 – Egypt joins allied coalition to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait and benefited from major multilateral loans and debt relief in return, allowing the government to launch another attempt at liberalising economy.
  44. 1992 (to 1997) – Gama’a al-Islamiyya Islamic Group begins a five-year campaign of attacks on government and tourist targets, culminating in the killing of 62 foreign tourists and Egyptians at the Luxor historic site in 1997.
  45. 2005 – Referendum backs constitutional amendment allowing multiple candidates at presidential elections, after months of opposition protests.
  46. 2005 – Scores of people are killed in bomb attacks in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh as Islamists resume terror attacks.
  47. 2005 – Parliamentary polls end with clashes between police and supporters of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, who win a record 20% of seats by standing as independents.
  48. 2006 – Bomb attacks in the Red Sea resort of Dahab kill more than 20 people.
  49. 2006 – Egypt is one of at least six Arab countries developing domestic nuclear programmes to diversify energy sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports.
  50. 2009 – USA President Obama gives a historic speech in Cairo to the entire Muslim world, confirming Egypt’s important position in the region
  51. 2010 – Parliamentary polls are held followed by protests against alleged vote rigging. Muslim Brotherhood fails to win a single seat, though it held a fifth of the places in the last parliament.
  52. 2011 – Anti-government demonstrations take place in Egypt, apparently encouraged by Tunisian street protests which prompted the sudden departure of President Ben Ali of Tunisia.
  53. 2011 – President Hosni Mubarak steps down and hands power to an army council. He goes on trial in August, charged with ordering the killing of demonstrators.
  54. 2011 – Protests continue in Cairo’s Tahrir Square over slow pace of political change. Islamist groups come to the fore. Army finally disperses protesters in August.
  55. 2011 – Violence in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as security forces clash with protesters accusing the military of trying to keep their grip on power.
  56. 2012 – Islamist parties emerge as victors of drawn-out parliamentary elections.
  57. 2012 – Military leaders announce the end of the state of emergency in place since Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981.
  58. 2012 – Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi narrowly wins presidential election.
  59. 2012 – Islamist fighters attack an army outpost in Sinai, killing 16 soldiers, and mount a brief incursion into Israel, beginning a new insurgency.
  60. 2012 – Islamist-dominated constituent assembly approves draft constitution that boosts the role of Islam and restricts freedom of speech and assembly.
  61. 2013 – More than 50 people are killed during days of violent street protests. Army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi warns that political strife is pushing the state to the brink of collapse.
  62. 2013 – Army overthrows President Mohammed Morsi amid mass demonstrations calling on him to quit. At least 600 are killed as security forces storm pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo the following month.
  63. 2013 – Government declares Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group after a bomb blast in Mansoura kills 12.
  64. 2014 – New constitution bans parties based on religion.
  65. 2014 – Former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi wins presidential election.
  66. 2014 – Sinai-based armed group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis pledges allegiance to extreme Islamic State movement, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq. Renames itself Sinai Province.
  67. 2015 – Ousted President Mohammed Morsi sentenced to death over 2011 mass breakout of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners, along with more than 100 others.
  68. 2015 – Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat and 3 members of the public killed in a suspected Islamist car bombing in Cairo.
  69. 2015 – Islamic State launches wave of attacks in North Sinai and on Coptic churches nationwide.
  70. 2015 – Islamic State claims responsibility for destruction of Russian airliner in Sinai, in which all crew and 224 tourist passengers were killed.
  71. 2016 – Islamic State carries out attack at Giza tourist site and is suspected of attack on tourists in Hurghada.
  72. 2016 – International Monetary Fund approves a three-year $12bn loan to Egypt designed to help the country out of its deep economic crisis.
  73. 2017 – State of emergency declared after suicide bombers kill dozens at two churches where worshippers celebrated Palm Sunday.
  74. 2017 – Egypt joins Saudi-led campaign to isolate Qatar, accusing it of promoting terrorism.
  75. 2017 – Jihadists attack a mosque in Bir al-Abed village in North Sinai, killing 305.
  76. 2018 – President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi wins a second term in elections against a sole minor opposition candidate. More serious challengers either withdrew or were arrested.
  77. 2018 – Seventeen people are sentenced to death over the 2016-17 wave of Islamic State group attacks on churches, and a further 19 receive life sentences.
  78. 2020 (to 2021) – COVID-19 pandemic caused more than 17,000 deaths in Egypt.
  79. 2021 – Egypt has 104 million people.
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