THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM CHAPTER I MEHEMET ALI : THE CREATOR OF MODERN EGYPT IT is little more than a century since Egypt emerged into modern history from the inglorious obscurity into which she had sunk after Selim the Conqueror incorporated her in 1517 into the dominions of the then mighty Ottoman Empire, and Europe, having discovered new trade routes to the Orient, ceased to take the slightest interest in her fate. Nor did she then emerge from that long obscurity by any effort of her own. She was violently dragged out of it by the vast ambitions of two great soldiers of fortune, neither of them of Asiatic or of African but both of European stock, and both born, by a curious coincidence, in the same year, 1769, in different parts of the Mediterranean—the Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte and the Albanian Mehemet Ali. Napoleon was prompt to realise that in the great duel which had commenced between France and Britain the most vulnerable part of the British Empire was to be sought in the East, and that Egypt provided the best strategic base for threatening the great dependency we were building up in India, and perhaps driving us out of it as we had not so long before ourselves driven .out the French. Mekemet Ali, who landed in Egypt during the great upheaval produced by the French invasion and in the very bay of Aboukir in which Nelson's Bas damaging to our own reputation as to the well-being of Egypt.