The death of Muhammad Ali left Egypt in the hands of men with less political acumen and profligate spending habits. Ali’s initial successor, Abbas, is described by Mansfield as “an embittered reactionary” and “generally xenophobic.” Murdered by two slaves on the likely orders of his aunt, Abbas was succeeded by his uncle Said. Said launched an extensive program of public works which included canals, dams, and transport projects. Many of these works were funded by borrowing from British and French banks.
The construction of the Suez Canal placed Egypt in further debt as it was required by the canal treaty to purchase unsold shares of the Suez Canal Company. Said’s heir Ismail, continued to borrow to build public works, though the reliance on cotton for economic development proved disastrous when cotton prices collapsed after the American Civil War. Ismail was forced to sell Egyptian shares in the canal at a loss to the British. T...
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...were ignored and their government changed by intervention from the CIA.
Going forward, a productive policy in the Middle East by the United States will require courageous diplomacy and risks. A Palestinian state must be established even if the pressure required to do so offends Israel and its supporters. Arabs must be brought to the table as equal partners. Development of natural resources must be done in a transparent manner that respects the will of the people. Certainly maximum profit will not be achieved but the goodwill engendered by respectful development is priceless. A great understanding of both Islam and its history will be required to deal effectively with the social and economic issues of the Middle East. Islam is the common heritage shared from Indonesia to Morocco. Carefully cultivating and cultural understanding of Islam is imperative to our diplomacy.
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