Egyptian Crises

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Egyptian Crises


(1831–33 and 1839–41), part of the struggle waged by the Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali against the Turkish sultan for Egyptian independence and the expansion of Egyptian territory at the expense of the weakened Ottoman Empire.

The first Egyptian crisis broke out in the autumn of 1831, when Muhammad Ali launched a war against Sultan Mahmud II. Egyptian troops under the command of Ibrahim Pasha occupied Palestine, Syria, and Cilicia, defeated the Turkish Army at Konya on Dec. 11, 1832, and began advancing on Istanbul. When he did not receive the aid he had requested from the West European powers, Mahmud II turned to Russia for help. The arrival of a Russian landing force in the Bosphorus in the spring of 1833 strengthened the sultan’s position and checked the Egyptians’ advance. However, the intervention of Great Britain and France, who feared an increase in Russian influence in the Ottoman Empire, prompted the sultan to conclude the Convention of Kutahya with Muhammad Ali. Under the convention, Muhammad Ali’s rule was extended beyond Egypt to Syria, Palestine, and the pashalik of Adana, in exchange for which the Egyptian ruler formally recognized the suzerainty of the sultan. After the signing of the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi in 1833, Russian troops were withdrawn from Turkey.

The second Egyptian crisis, which was caused by the dissatisfaction of both sides with the Convention of Kutahya, began with a Turkish offensive against Egypt. The Turks were defeated in the first engagement, which was fought at Nezib on June 24, 1839, and the Turkish fleet went over to the side of the Egyptian ruler. However, the European powers intervened in the conflict. With the exception of France, they supported the sultan.

Muhammad Ali’s situation was complicated by revolts against Egyptian rule in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. In September 1840, British, Austrian, and Turkish troops and landing forces defeated the Egyptian troops and pushed them out of Syria. When the European powers threatened to invade Egypt, Muhammad Ali capitulated. Under decrees issued on February 13 and June 1, 1841, by the sultan (Abdul Medjid from 1839), Muhammad Ali was recognized as the hereditary ruler of Egypt and eastern Sudan but was deprived of his other possessions, and the Egyptian Army was reduced to 18,000 men.


Murav’ev, N. N. Turtsiia i Egipet v 1832–1833 godakh, vol. 4: Russkie na Bosfore. Moscow, 1869.
Eremeeva, T. V. “Zakluichitel’nyi etap egipetskogo krizisa 1831–1833 gg. i velikie derzhavy.” Uch. zap. po novoi i noveishei istorii, 1956, issue 2.
Lutskii, V. B. Novaia istoriia arabskihk stran, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966. Chapter 8.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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