Tawfīq Pasha, devoid of political qualities and inclined to England, suddenly found himself faced with a reaction movement against excessive foreign invasion. The position of favor given in the army to senior officers of Turkish and Circassian origin provoked a first military uprising, led above all by Colonel Aḥmed ‘Orābī, known to Europeans as Arabi Pasha, on January 15, 1881. The nationalist military party became master of the situation and on 9 September he presented an ultimatum to the khedive, requesting and obtaining the dismissal of the Riyāẓ ministry, the formation of a parliament and the increase of the army with new regulations.
On March 10, 1882, Arabs, appointed pasha and minister of war, prepared to depose the khedive himself; an Anglo-French naval demonstration in front of Alexandria seemed for a moment to calm the spirits, without however obtaining the requested resignation of the dictator. A massacre of Europeans, which suddenly occurred in Alexandria on June 11 of that year, induced international diplomacy to meet in Constantinople to discuss the Egyptian situation, while England was preparing to act. France and Italy, although solicited by England, did not adhere to military action; so that the British squad alone began to bomb Alexandria on 11 July 1882 and new massacres suffered the European colonies in the four days prior to the landing of the troops. Beaten and dispersed the Egyptian army in Tell el-Kebir (11 September 1882), General Wolseley entered Cairo and restored Tawfīq to power. Arabi Pasha was tried and deported to Ceylon.
These events accelerated the violent outbreak of the rebellion against Egypt in the Egyptian Sūdān, led by Moḥammed Aḥmed, a native of the Dongola district, who since mid-1881 had proclaimed himself the Mahd ī (v.) expected by Muslims. Proceeding northward from the regions south of Kordofān, he occupied this territory and captured the capital el-Obeyyiḍ on January 16, 1883. An Egyptian army, under the command of the English general W. Hicks, who left Suez in December 1882, advanced in Kordofān in the autumn of the following year; but it was completely destroyed (November 5). The British government then decided to evacuate the Sūdān and sent General G. Gordon (February 1884) to el-Kharṭum with the difficult task of organizing the withdrawal of the Egyptian garrisons scattered over the vast territory. Besieged by the Mahdī in the Sudanese capital itself, where only a few Egyptian troops were found, Gordon was overwhelmed and killed (January 26, 1885). A relief expedition under the command of GJ Wolseley, he arrived two days later in sight of el-Kharṭum and had to retire. The revolt had also triumphed in the provinces of Dārfūr and Baḥr el-Ghazāl, whose governors had submitted to the Mahdī. The Red Sea region, where gen. V. Baker had suffered a reversal between Suākin and Ṭōkar (February 4, 1884), fell into the power of ‛Osmān Digna (Dignah), lieutenant of the Mahdī. In February 1885, following agreements with England, the Italian occupation of Massawa took place.
After the Mahdī’s death (June 22, 1885), the entire Egyptian Sūdān, minus the province of Equatoria, was in the hands of the Mahdī’s successor (Khalifah), ‛Abd Allāh et-Ta‛ā’ishī. The political order of the immense territory was founded on the pure principles of Islam, including the program of the holy war against infidels and Turks, degenerate Muslims. Despite repeated declarations by the British government about the temporary nature of the occupation, the Sūdān issue offered a pretext for prolonging this abnormal regime. Nominally, Egypt was still a vassal province of the Ottoman Empire, but endowed with the autonomy conferred on it with the kha ṭṭ – i shar ī f of 1840. A European conference, meeting in London in April 1884 for a new settlement of the Egyptian debt, had closed without results. The one meeting in Paris (1885-88) for the neutralization of the Suez Canal and the organization of the Compagnia del Canale (Conv. Of Constantinople, 12 December 1888) obtained better success. Under the directives of Lord Cromer, who succeeded Lord Dufferin as British commissioner, the power of the khedive was in fact significantly limited, despite the attempts of resistance by ‛Abbās II Hilmī, successor of Tawfīq (1892). An English police was added to the occupation corps. The Egyptian army had a sird ā r (supreme commander) and a British staff. The courts were reorganized with the English system of three judges. Customs and the civilian health service functioned under the direct control of England. The Ministries of Interior and Justice also had a British adviser. The finances and mixed courts (of Alexandria, Cairo and el-Manṣūrah with the Court of Appeal of Alexandria) created in 1876 remained under international control. The increase in public works, agriculture and irrigation systems, the progressive consolidation of the finances allowed, through successive loans, the conversion of the public debt. In 1898 the Egyptian National Bank was founded with an initial capital of one million pounds sterling.
During a decade England gave up reoccupying the Sūdān, limiting itself to the defense of the Egyptian territory against the incursions of the dervishes, to which the col. H. Kitchener (who later succeeded sirdār FW Grenfell) repeatedly inflicted chess. The Red Sea area was preserved thanks to the cooperation of Abyssinian gangs and Italian troops (Kássalā, Agordat, etc., see Eritrea: History). When the Anglo-Egyptian army was deemed sufficiently prepared to attempt the enterprise, Dongola and Berber were subsequently reoccupied (Sept.-Oct. 1897) as well as Kassalā, which had been relegated from Italy (December 18, 1897). Continuing in the advanced method towards the south, the sirdār reported a notable success in Hūdī on the Atbarā (8 April 1898) and on the following 2 September, after having defeated the army of dervishes, he entered el-Kharṭūm. In the meantime, in order to open an outlet on the Nile to its possessions in the Congo, the French government had sent a small indigenous column under the command of Captain JB Marchand from Brazzaville (10 September 1897). On September 19, 1898, Kitchener arrived in front of Fāshōda (now Kodok), which he found already occupied by the French. L’ incident gave rise to laborious diplomatic negotiations between the two states. By virtue of the convention of 11 December 1898, France allowed the withdrawal of the Marchand column and Fāshōda was occupied by British troops. On January 20, 1899, England had the right to participate in the government of the Sūdān recognized by the khedive. The governor, who was appointed Khedivial, was to receive the approval of Great Britain. Furthermore, the Sūdān, excluded from the regime of capitulations, was also removed from the jurisdiction of the mixed courts. First governor was Sirdār Kitchener himself. England made itself recognized by the khedive the right to participate in the government of the Sūdān. The governor, who was appointed Khedivial, was to receive the approval of Great Britain. Furthermore, the Sūdān, excluded from the regime of capitulations, was also removed from the jurisdiction of the mixed courts. First governor was Sirdār Kitchener himself. England made itself recognized by the khedive the right to participate in the government of the Sūdān. The governor, who was appointed Khedivial, was to receive the approval of Great Britain. Furthermore, the Sūdān, excluded from the regime of capitulations, was also removed from the jurisdiction of the mixed courts. First governor was Sirdār Kitchener himself.
In the early years of the century. XX the nationalist propaganda regains new vigor under the leadership of the young Kāmil Muṣṭafà Pasha, founder of a new national party that tries to give a positive content to the old formula “Egypt to the Egyptians”. Illiteracy will remain the main obstacle for a long time, extending to nine tenths of the total population. The dam of the Nile in Aswan, completed in December 1902, after four years of work also supplied by Italian workers, allowed the cultivation of new lands, but without also taking advantage of the national wealth of hydraulic energy and the possibility of planting of thriving industries. The major irrigation works undertaken in the Sūdān, in the el-Gezīrah or northern region between the two Niles,
The British government’s concern to somehow legalize its stay in Egypt was reflected in the agreement with France, signed on April 8, 1904: England declared that it had no intention of changing the political state of Egypt, while the the French government undertook not to require a deadline for the occupation itself; in exchange, he agreed to the extension of French influence in Morocco. Emperor Wilhelm II later drew a pretext from this agreement for the demonstrations in Tangier (1905) and Agadir (1911). In 1907 Sir Eldon Gorst succeeded Lord Cromer. Four years later, Lord Kitchener assumed, with more extensive powers, the office of representative of the British government in Egypt.
The commitment not to change the political structure of the country, did not prevent England, shortly after the outbreak of the war of 1914, from declaring the Ottoman sovereignty over Egypt abolished, proceeding to the deposition of the Turkophile Khedive ‛Abbās II Ḥilmī who was replaced by his uncle Ḥusein Kāmil who was proclaimed sultan, while the country was subjected to the regime of the protectorate (December 19, 1914). Until August 12 of that year Egypt was in a state of war against the central empires: Alexandria had become a British naval base and General Sir John Maxwell had assumed command of the Anglo-Egyptian army; Lord Kitchener was succeeded by Sir Henry McMahon. The defense of the Suez Canal against threats from the Libyan Desert to the west and Palestine to the east, it was the main war concern. In February 1913, attacks by Turkish forces concentrated in the Sinai were repelled and, until February 1917, the Senussi continued to press along the line Sollum Bay-Oasis of el-Baḥarīyah, el-Farāfrah and ed-Dākhlah. After the expeditionary force had been reinforced with metropolitan and Indian troops and handed over the command to General Sir Archibald Murray (March 1916), the Turkish-German offensive led by Enver Pascià between July and early August 1916 (fighting of el-Qanṭrah and Rumānī). The beginning of operations in Palestine (March 1917), by the work of General Sir Edmund Allenby, marked the disappearance of all serious threats against this vital line of communications. Meanwhile the sultan Ḥusein Kāmil died and his brother Aḥmed Fu’ād succeeded him (9 October 1917). With the end of hostilities, the protectorate regime that England had declared as provisional should have ended: the nationalist party – whose direction was succeeded by Sa‛d Zaghlūl Pascià, a lawyer who became vice president of the legislative body – made strong on this promise, of the illegal British situation in Egypt and of the right of self-determination of the peoples, affirmed by Wilson.