Following the brief French occupation of Egypt between 1798–1801, a power vacuum formed in the region. Muhammad Ali, an Albanian commander, was sent to Egypt to secure territory for the Ottomans and managed to establish himself in a position of power in 1805. After wiping out the Mamluks in 1811, Ali set about modernizing the Egyptian economy, military and education system with the goal of establishing his own empire. His new army enjoyed successful campaigns in Sudan and Arabia but, whilst engaging Greece on behalf of the Ottomans, the Egyptian fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Navarino in 1827 by European naval forces who were concerned about the shifting balance of power. After he turned against the Ottomans and gained territory as far as the Ottoman heartland, European interests again curbed Ali’s power. He died in 1849 and Egypt’s influence under his successors shrunk until the Suez Canal was sold to the British in 1875.
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