Republic of Egypt

Republic of Egypt

Formerly a colony of France, the Egyptians wrested their nation from their former imperial masters following the onset of the French civil war in 1804. Taking as their motto the same slogans that had inspired the French Revolution itself, Egypt’s national liberators set up a republican government in 1806. As the French threat dissipated, however, the political revolutionaries gradually lost cohesion. The party of liberation split into three different factions, calling themselves, the Pyramid, the Water and the Khopesh factions, and a bitter civil war soon followed, with outbreaks of fierce fighting lasting for some twenty years. During this time, Egyptian government practically devolved into warlordism. The republic was nominally maintained, but the national government, pretty much holed up in a state of siege in Alexandria, could do little to impose its will on the rest of the country. For one thing, whichever faction gained control of the government was immediately hobbled as supporters of the other two factions would combine their forces to ensure that their rival would have no authority. Of course, every time the presidency and the House of Voices, the republic’s nominal parliament changed hands, the process would repeat itself. In the middle of all this, the ordinary citizens of Egypt grimly tried to scrape a living and keep their heads down as anarchy raged about them.

This state of affairs was largely ignored by the rest of the world for some years. Egypt was seen as little more than a backwater. The French were too weak and too disinterested to try and reclaim their former colony, placing much more importance Algeria and Tunisia, and the Italians and the Ottomans both considered the fractious little state to be a useful buffer against their potential rivals in North Africa. However, matters changed considerably when the republic started to become a haven for pirates, dissidents and malcontents of all kinds. Shipping was harassed from Cyprus to Malta. Eventually, the Ottoman Dominion lost patience. In 1828 it invaded Egypt, crushing all resistance in a matter of months. However, unlike the Prussians in France, the Sultan did not attempt to occupy, but instead used military and economic means to stabilise the republic. Over several years, these methods worked and Egypt has been an Ottoman ally ever since. However, this did prove to be a factor in provoking Italian ambitions, although these only truly escalated after the discovery of oil in the southern regions of the republic in 1862.

Egypt’s old warring factions have now matured into formal political parties, although the country’s political area is still volatile enough for occasional outbreaks of violence during election seasons. The Pyramid faction represents the republic’s conservative interests, and advocates a policy of neutrality and retrenchment, while the River faction, who use the life-giving Nile as their symbol, believe in moderate expansion in territory and trade, focussed mainly on economic rather than military growth. The Khopesh faction are the most overtly expansionistic, believing that the Italians represent a substantial threat, and also that their territories in Libya would be a fine addition to the republic’s holdings. Currently, President Al-Rachid of the Pyramid faction governs as head of state, but his party only controls the House of Voices by alliance with some of the more conservative of the Nile faction. Thus far, Al-Rachid has held to his faction’s policy of watchful neutrality and economic advancement through the trading of oil to both the Ottoman Dominions and Prussia. These shrewd moves have checked Italian ambitions by giving the republic two powerful allies. Al-Rachid works hard to keep this delicate structure intact, for he knows that the republic’s small and poorly equipped armed forces, though skilled in guerrilla actions and raiding, need to be rebuilt into something much more formidable before Eygpt’s safety can be assured. To this end, he is using part of his country’s new oil wealth to purchase armaments from his Ottoman allies and establish an industrial base. He has also invoked a spirit of patriotism by reminding his people of how hard-won their independence from France was.

However, a new power is rising in the republic which threatens Al-Rachid’s plans. This is the Hammer faction, which is determined to rebuild the republic along the lines of Marx’s Communist Manifesto. The Hammers advocate a pan-Arab revolution, envisioning Egypt as the eventual leader of a North African Communist state stretching from the Sinai to the Atlantic coast. The Hammers have allied themselves with the most radical of the Khopesh faction and are a growing force in a newly invigorated Egypt. Al-Rachid and the government are taking rapid steps to try and neutralise this powerfully vocal faction, whose ascendance risks alienating the Ottoman support upon which the shaky republic still depends.