Anglo-Egyptian Sudan

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Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was the name of the Sudan when it was a colony of the United Kingdom and Egypt. It was officially under the joint rule of both countries, but the British controlled the government from the beginning. Every Governor was British, and all decisions about the country were made by the British, although many of the administrators of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan were Egyptians. The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was created in 1899 when the Egyptian Army under Herbert Kitchener recaptured the Sudan, which was before an Egyptian colony, from the Mahdists, a group of Islamic rebels against Egypt.

Sudan Conquest[change | change source]

Before focusing on the Anglo-Egyptian condominium in Sudan, it is essential to know that Sudan was already a part of Egypt since 1820. Egypt was then part of the Ottoman empire.

Muhammad Ali, that came to power in Egypt in 1805 defeated the Mamluks by 1812. The Mamluks were invited to the inauguration of Ahmad Pasha as commander. After the event at the citadel of Cairo, the Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali commanded his army to kill all the Mamluks. The ones that survived the massacre fled southwards to a village in Sudan called Dongola, where they formed a community.[1]

Reasons for the conquest[change | change source]

This Mamluk settlement was the main reason for Ali to invade Sudan; he feared that they were preparing to come back to Egypt soon and topple the ruler. But this was certainly not the only reason for Muhammad Ali to take over their neighboring country. He was also highly interested in the enslaved Sudanese people. Ali decided to modernize Egypt when he took control of it in 1805, this included building a big army, but he had not enough human resources to achieve this.

The conquest[change | change source]

After years of exploration by Egyptian officials in Upper Egypt and Sudan, the invasion began in 1820. The conquest can be divided into two different parts.[2] The first one was led by the son of Muhammad Ali, Isma'ili Kamal Pasha, and had the aim to take control of the Nile Bassin and Sennar. Muhammad Bay Khusawr Al Dafardaar conducted the second conquest that began a year later; he was also related to Mohammed Ali because he married the daughter of Mohammed Ali's wife.[3] His goal was to conquer the Darfur region which is the southwestern part of Sudan.

Result[change | change source]

Ali’s goal of creating an army consisting of enslaved people was not achieved. But with his invasion, he dismantled possible opponents. The situation in Sudan was calm after their uprising was suppressed. The next big rebellion was the Mahdist revolt.[4]

Mahdist state[change | change source]

In 1881, the Mahdist Revolt broke out in the Sudan. This revolt was similar in nature to the ‘Urabi revolt in lower Egypt, however experienced by the British as more fanatical.[5] It was centered around the Sufi scholar Muhammad Ahmad who assumed Mahdiship and started a revolution from Kordofan against Egypt. From Kordofan he conquered most of modern-day Sudan and South Sudan.

After the Mahdist takeover, the Sudanese economy was destroyed first by the war and later by famine and oppression. The Mahdi declared that anyone that criticized his mahdiship as unfaithful was considered an unbeliever (kāfir).[6] The Mahdist state also continued to fight a jihad against Egypt and opposition within his state.[7]

Anglo-Egyptian Condominium[change | change source]

The reconquest of Sudan was achieved with Egyptian military and finance; this was on demand of Great Britain.[8] Other European powers, like France, Italy, and Belgium that were active in the region, were also interested in annexing or acquiring Sudanese territory. The most famous example is the Fashoda Incident, the French Captain Marchand occupied the military post of Fashoda in southern Sudan on 10 July 1898. Kitchener, who was the governor-general, was furious and immediately sent out the army to defeat the French.[9]

The military problem had now been solved; the political issue awaited a solution. At first, it was unclear which form of government was to be applied to the Sudan.[10] Because the country had to be sufficiently Egyptian to meet the political requirements and enough British to avoid any administration problems.

The Agreement[change | change source]

In 1898 a solution was found. On 19 January and 10 July of that year, the Condominium Agreement was signed by Lord Cromer on the British side and Boutros Pasha Ghali on the Egyptian side, he was the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time.[11] A condominium means that a territory is held by two powers, in this case Egypt and Great Britain. For Sudan, it meant that it became an independent state, but with the rights of the two powers, Great Britain and Egypt merged into it.

The agreement intends to guarantee the predominance of Great Britain in Sudan in the interests of the Sudanese, Egypt, and herself. The main points in the deal were as follows; Firstly, the flags of the two sovereign powers were to be hoisted next to each other.

The second key point is about the British control of the administrative structure given in Articles III and IV of the agreement. Article III says that the Governor-General of Sudan, who is appointed by the Khedive, is responsible for the civil and military command of the country. The other one, Article IV, gives the same Governor-General complete control over legislative powers, which means that he can make or change laws. Kitchener was, as aforementioned, the first governor-general; later, in 1899, Sir Reginald Wingate was appointed.

Lastly, the appointment of Consuls in the Sudan must be made in consultation with Britain.[12]

Egypt's interest[change | change source]

Egypt’s interest in Sudan is twofold. The first one is security; by controlling Sudan in a condominium with Great Britain, they remove threats coming from the south. The second and biggest reason for their interest is the Nile. Lord Cromer and his administration wanted to secure the Upper Nile, one reason for this was to have enough water for their important cotton production in Egypt.[13][14]

British Policies[change | change source]

Before WWI[change | change source]

When the British reclaimed Sudan, they implemented several changes in their religious and political policies.

They were to focus on three main goals. The first of which was the separation of religion and state, as was the norm in other colonies.[15] Another was the expulsion of the remaining Mahdist forces.[16] This was, partially, done through condemnation of Sufism.[17] Nevertheless, revolts did break out, which were gradually put down over time.[18] A third goal was to gain more control over southern tribal areas, which had been under loose control in the past.

The differentiated British policies for missionary activities from those in the south. In the north, orthodox Islam was encouraged, and therefore missionary activity would be mostly prohibited. In southern tribal territories, however, it would be allowed, as they were perceived to be pagans by the British.[17]

WWI[change | change source]

When Britain and the Ottoman Empire assumed opposing sides in the first world war, Britain declared Egypt as a protectorate.[19] This was done because Egypt was, although very autonomous, still technically a province of the Ottoman Empire. Sudan was now the most British it had been.

Wingate managed to get the support of many Sudanese people. He did this by allowing more Sufism and using lingering hate against the Ottomans in Sudan to get the support of the remaining Mahdi sympathizers.[20] Which, in turn, meant that the previous efforts to prioritize traditional Islam had failed.[20]

Interbellum[change | change source]

After the first world war, Egyptian nationalism greatly increased. There was a fear that if the Egyptians were to gain independence, they would also claim Sudan. Therefore, the British tried to gain Sudanese support by speaking to local leaders and prominent figures. One son of the Mahdi, ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi, was becoming increasingly pro-British after the first world war and would pledge his sword to the British crown in 1919.[21] The British now had generally better relations with the Sudanese religious elite given the Mahdist threat was mostly on their side now.

However, Egyptian nationalism had mainly affected the educated middle-class Sudanese-Egyptian people. These nationalists were led by ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Latif, who started several political movements demanding sovereignty for Sudan. This led to protests and his arrest in 1922 and 1924.[22] After his second arrest, more violent protests would take place, this led to the expulsion of Egyptian troops from Sudan.

In the 1930s, British influence appeared to be diminishing, partially because the Anglo-Egyptian treaty had been signed in 1936, making the relations between the two states more consolable. However, there was not much agreed upon about the territory of Sudan and who would rule it, with many of the same disputes still existing in the background. Nationalism had also started to grow in recent years, and in 1938 the first Sudanese representation came into being with the establishment of the Graduates’ General Congress.[23]

Independence[change | change source]

The Sudanese independence was a consequence of the coup by the Free Officers in Egypt in 1952. This coup, led by Mohammad Naguib and general Gamal Abdel Nasser, overthrew the Egyptian Monarchy.

Rise of Nationalism[change | change source]

In the Sudan, the voice of nationalists had risen since a few years already.[24] Different political parties were formed, some aimed to be fully independent and other to unite with Egypt. One of the parties that strived for independence was the Umma Nation Party, created in 1945. Britain and Egypt were aware of this rise of nationalism. Britain set up an advisory council in the northern part of the country, giving the Umma party the lead over it.[25]

Mohammad Naguib, half Sudanese, met the Sudanese political leader to suggest self-governance and later self-determination. On 10 January 1953, the agreement giving the Sudan ‘self-government statute’ was signed by both countries.[26]

This was seen as a transitional period that was limited to a maximum of 3 years; after this, it was decided whether Sudan was to be linked to Egypt in any form or become independent.

The second option was chosen, and the parliament was the country's first self-governing institution. In 1954 elections were held, and Ismail Azhari won. He was the leader of the [[Democratic_Unionist_Party_(Sudan)|National Unionist Party]; he wanted to get rid of the British control in Sudan. Azhari was for the unity of Egypt and Sudan, but this changed once he was elected as prime minister.[27]


On 19 December 1955, the House of Representatives passed a resolution for the country's independence. On 1 January 1956, Sudan was officially independent, the Egyptian and British flags were lowered, and the new Sudanese flag was hoisted. This was the end of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium.

References[change | change source]

  1. Shepard, William E. (2014). "Chapter 17: Ideology and Politics in Egypt". Introducing Islam (2nd ed.). London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. p. 271. ISBN 9780415533454.
  2. Beška, Emanual (2019). "Mohammed Ali's Conquest of Sudan (1820-1824)". African and Asian Studies. 28: 37 – via ResearchGate.
  3. Robinson, Arthur E. (1926). "The Conquest of Sudan by the Wali of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, 1820-1824. Part II". Journal of the Royal African Society. Oxford University Press. 25 (98): 166 – via JSTOR.
  4. Daly, M.W. (1986). Empire on the Nile : the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1898-1934. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052130878X.
  5. Newsinger, John (2008). "Liberal imperialism and the occupation of Egypt in 1882". Race & class. London: Sage Publications. 49 (3): 71–72 – via Sage Publications.
  6. Holt, P.M. (1970). The Mahdist State in the Sudan, 1881-1898: A study of its origins, development and overthrow. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 107. ISBN 0198216602.
  7. Holt, P.M. (1970). "The Militant Mahdist State". The Mahdist State in the Sudan, 1881-1898: A study of its origins development and overthrow. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 147–183. ISBN 0198216602.
  8. Hasan Qasim, Murad (1978). "The British Involvement in the Sudan". Pakistan Horizon. Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. 31 (4): 78–79 – via JSTOR.
  9. Spiers, Edward M. (1947). Sudan : the reconquest reappraised. London: Cass. p. 171. ISBN 0714647497.
  10. MacMichael, Harold Alfred (1934). The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. London: Faber, and Faber. p. 63.
  11. MacMichael, Harold Alfred (1934). The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. London: Faber and Faber. p. 65.
  12. MacMichael, Harold Alfred (1934). The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 66–69.
  13. MacMichael, Harold Alfred (1934). The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. London: Faber and Faber. p. 70.
  14. Tvedt, Terje (2007). "The British River Empire and the Unknown Story of the Anglo-Egyptian". Sudan Studies. 36: 28–46 – via ResearchGate.
  15. Warburg, Gabriel (2003). Islam, Sectarianism and Politics in Sudan since the Mahdiyya. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 57. ISBN 0299182940.
  16. Holt, P.M. (1961). A modern history of the Sudan : from the Funj Sultanate to the present day. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 112.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Warburg, Gabriel (2003). Islam, sectarianism and politics in Sudan since the Mahdiyya. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 58. ISBN 0299182940.
  18. Holt, P.M. (1961). "The Era of Kitchener And Wingate: 1899-1918". A modern history of the Sudan : from the Funj Sultanate to the present day. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 109–124. ASIN B0007DMNUA.
  19. Daly, M.W. (1986). Empire on the Nile: the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1898-1934. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 157. ISBN 0521894379.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Warburg, Gabriel (2003). Islam, sectarianism and politics in Sudan since the Mahdiyya. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 76-80. ISBN 0299182940.
  21. Warburg, Gabriel (2003). Islam, sectarianism and politics in Sudan since the Mahdiyya. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 85-86. ISBN 0299182940.
  22. Holt, P.M. (1961). A modern history of the Sudan : from the Funj Sultanate to the present day. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 127–128.
  23. Holt, P.M. (1961). A modern history of Sudan: from the Funj Sultanate to the present day. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 140–142.
  24. Helm, Knox; Duncan, John Spencer Ritchie (1957). The Sudan's path to independence. Edinburgh: Blackwood. p. 137. ISBN 9780758107978.
  25. Holt, P.M. (1961). "Rise Of Sudanese Nationalism: 1934-52". A modern history of the Sudan : from the Funj Sultanate to the present day. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 139–158.
  26. Holt, P.M. (1961). "Self-Government and Self-Determination: 1953-55". A modern history of the Sudan : from the Funj Sultanate to the present day. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 160. ASIN B0007DMNUA.
  27. Holt, P.M. (1961). "Self-Government and Self-Determination: 1953-55". A modern history of the Sudan : from the Funj Sultanate to the present day. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 161. ASIN B0007DMNUA.