A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C. A series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. Persia conquered Egypt in 525 B.C. Alexander the Great subdued it in 332 B.C. The Ptolemies ruled the land until 30 B.C., when Cleopatra committed suicide and Egypt became a Roman, then Byzantine, province. Arabs introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and Arab caliphs ruled Egypt from 641 until 1517, when the Ottoman Turks took it.
Egypt was occupied by NapolÃ©on's armies from 1798 to 1801. In 1805, Mohammed Ali, leader of a band of Albanian soldiers, became pasha of Egypt. After completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important transportation hub. Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914, when Egypt became a protectorate of Britain.
Egyptian nationalism, led by Zaghlul Pasha and the Wafd Party, forced Britain to relinquish its claims on the country. Egypt became an independent sovereign state on February 28, 1922, with Fu'ad I as king. In 1936, by an Anglo-Egyptian treaty of alliance, all British troops and officials were to be withdrawn, except from the Suez Canal Zone. Egypt remained neutral when World War II started.
Egypt acquired full sovereignty with the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy in 1952 and the army, led by Gen. Mohammed Naguib, seized power. King Farouk abdicated in favor of his infant son. The monarchy was abolished and a republic proclaimed on June 18, 1953, with Naguib becoming president and prime minister. He relinquished the prime ministership in 1954 to Gamal Abdel Nasser, leader of the ruling military junta. Nasser also assumed the presidency in 1956.
In 1956, the U.S. and Britain withdrew their pledges of financial aid for the building of the Aswan High Dam. In response, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and expelled British oil and embassy officials. The Soviet Union agreed to finance the dam. After demanding Egyptian evacuation of the canal zone, Britain and France attacked Egypt on October 31, 1956.
From 1956 to 1961, Egypt and Syria united to form a single country called the United Arab Republic (UAR). Syria ended this relationship in 1961 after a military coup, but Egypt continued to call itself the UAR until 1971.
In 1967, border tensions between Egypt and Israel led to the Six-Day War. On June 5, Israel launched an air assault, and annexed the Sinai Peninsula, the East Bank of the Jordan River, and the Golan Heights. A UN cease-fire on June 10 saved the Arabs from a complete rout. Nasser declared the 1967 cease-fire void along the canal in April 1969 and began a war of attrition. On September 28, 1970, Nasser died of a heart attack. Anwar el-Sadat became the next president.
The fourth Arab-Israeli War broke out on October 6, 1973, during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. A UN-sponsored truce was accepted on October 22. In January 1974, both sides agreed to a settlement negotiated by the U.S. that gave Egypt a narrow strip along the entire Sinai bank of the Suez Canal. In June, President Richard Nixon made the first visit by a U.S. president to Egypt and full diplomatic relations were established. The Suez Canal was reopened on June 5, 1975.
On November 20, 1977, Sadat flew to Jerusalem at the invitation of Prime Minister Menachem Begin to discuss a permanent peace settlement. The Arab world reacted with fury. Egypt and Israel signed a formal peace treaty on March 26, 1979. The pact ended 30 years of war and established diplomatic and commercial relations.
On October 6, 1981, Sadat was assassinated by Muslim soldiers at a parade in Cairo. Vice President Hosni Mubarak, succeeded him. Israel completed the return of the Sinai to Egyptian control on April 25, 1982.
In July 2005, President Mubarak announced he would seek a fifth term. Earlier in the year Mubarak had amended the constitution to allow for multi-party elections, the first in Egyptian history. On September 6, Mubarak was re-elected.
In March 2007, voters endorsed changes to the Constitution that strengthened the presidency. Voter turnout was low and opposition groups claimed the vote was rigged.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke of forming an alliance with Muslims during a visit to Cairo in June 2009. He called for "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world," asking for new alliances based on mutual respect and common interests.
Unrest spread throughout the Middle East in January 2011. In Egypt, opposition groups and activists calling for reform began their protests on January 25, called "a day of rage," which coincided with Police Day. The protesters demanded the resignation of Mubarak, who had taken steps for his son, Gamal, to succeed him in upcoming elections.
The protests continued and grew with protesters and police engaged in violent battles. On January 28, Mubarak ordered his government to resign and reshuffled his cabinet. Mubarak remained in office and appointed military intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as vice president. He deployed the military to help police quell the protests, but the military said it would not use force against the protesters. On February 1, hundreds of thousands of protesters assembled in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Mohamed El Baradei, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, returned to Egypt and emerged as the leader of the opposition. He urged Muburak to resign and allow the formation of a "national unity government."
On February 1, Mubarak announced that he would serve out the remainder of his term but not run for re-election. A day later, the situation in Cairo deteriorated as counter-protests broke out and supporters and opponents of Mubarak faced off hurling rocks and wielding sticks.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest and most influential opposition movement, issued a statement on February 4 calling for the resignation of Mubarak. In response, the government made a series of conciliatory gestures announcing that Suleiman would oversee the planning of upcoming elections and the transition, promised a 15% pay increase for government employees, and proposed constitutional reforms. The opposition dismissed the gesture as inadequate. On February 11, Mubarak announced his resignation and handed power over to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). Crowds in Cairo celebrated chanting, "Egypt is free!"
The military dissolved Parliament, suspended the Constitution, and presented a road map for the transition to civilian rule. On March 3, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq resigned. He was replaced by Essam Sharaf. On March 20, voters approved a referendum on constitutional amendments. One of the amendments establishes presidential term limits.
On April 13, 2011, Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, were taken into police custody to be questioned about corruption and abuse of power. In May, prosecutors charged Mubarak with murder and attempting to murder protesters. He and his sons were charged with corruption. Mubarak's trial began on August 3 in Cairo.
Tensions flared between Israel and Egypt in August and September 2011, when militants attacked the Israeli resort town of Eilat, on the Egypt-Israel border. Eight Israelis were killed and 30 were wounded. Six Egyptian border guards were also killed in the shootings. Israeli authorities blamed the attacks on the Popular Resistance Committees, a group that has worked with Hamas. Egypt blamed Israel for the deaths. Israel responded with several airstrikes on Gaza, killing the Popular Resistance Committees' commander. Egyptian officials denied that the attackers crossed through Hamas.
Confidence in the military's leadership began to erode in October in response to the military's heavy-handed approach to a peaceful protest by Coptic Christians, who were demonstrating against religious intolerance and the burning of a church. About 25 Copts were killed and 300 injured in Cairo when security forces fired on the crowd with live ammunition and ran over protests. Days later, the military council said it would maintain control over the government after parliamentary elections and cede power only after a new constitution was adopted and presidential elections.
In November, protesters returned to Tahrir Square demanding the ruling military council step aside in favor of a civilian-led government. The demonstrations turned violent with police firing on crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets. On November 21, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet resigned. In an agreement reached with the Muslim Brotherhood, the military council vowed to install a civilian prime minister and accelerate the transition to a civilian government. Former prime minister Kamal al-Ganzouri was named to replace Sharaf. The opposition condemned the Muslim Brotherhood for cooperating with the military, saying the Islamists were cozying up to the military in a grab for power.
Millions of Egyptians voted in the first round of parliamentary elections on November 28. The Muslim Brotherhood won about 40% of the vote. The Islamist Salafists took about 25%. The second round of parliamentary elections were marred by violence. Protesters demonstrating against military rule were beat up and troops assaulted civilians who assembled outside parliament. The reputation of the military was further tarnished in late December, when it beat, kicked, and stripped several women who were participating in a women's demonstration against military rule.
After the third and final round of voting, the Muslim Brotherhood emerged as the winner, taking 47% of the seats in parliament. The Salafis won 25%, giving Islamists more than 70% of the seats. The first democratically elected parliament in more than 60 years convened in January 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood named as many as 70 Islamists, including 50 members of parliament, to the 100-person committee. In March 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood nominated Khairat el-Shater, the group's chief strategist.
In early April, a court suspended the work of the constitution-writing committee. Later in the month, election officials disqualified ten out of 23 candidates in the presidential elections on technical grounds, including three leading contenders: Omar Suleiman, Shater, and Hazem Abu Ismail. The first round of Egypt's first democratic presidential election was inconclusive.
On June 2, 2012, a three-judge panel sentenced Mubarak to life in prison for being an "accessory to murder" in the killing of hundreds of unarmed protesters in early 2011. The former president and his sons were acquitted of corruption and the panel cleared several of Mubarak's security officials who were responsible for ordering the attacks on protesters. Thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of Cairo to protest what they considered to be a weak verdict.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq faced off in a second round in June 2012. The military council recognized the victory of Morsi. In late July, Morsi named Hesham Kandil as prime minister.
In early August, militants shot and killed 16 Egyptian soldiers at an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula. Several militants then drove into Israel, where their vehicle was destroyed by the Israeli military. Morsi ordered an airstrike on the Sinai. On August 12, Morsi dismissed several senior generals and the heads of each service branch of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was among the leaders Morsi stripped of his position. Morsi also voided a constitutional declaration imposed by the military that limited the role of the president, and implemented a new order that expanded his power.
In September 2012, protests broke out at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Demonstrators stormed the embassy and ripped down the American flag.
On November 22, 2012, Morsi declared authority over the courts. He said the move was necessary because the judiciary was threatening to suspend the constitutional assembly before drafting a new constitution. The decree was met with large protests in Tahrir Square and international condemnation.
The constitutional assembly approved a draft document on November 29, which was widely criticized. The draft constitution passed because Morsi's opponents boycotted the vote. Thousands of protesters took to the streets demonstrating against Morsi's power grab. The protests turned violent when members of the Muslim Brotherhood tried to break up the crowds.
Violent protests erupted throughout Egypt on January 25, 2013. The ire of demonstrators was focused on the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi's government. Dozens of people were killed. Morsi declared a state of emergency in Suez, Ismailia, and Port Said.
In March 2013, Morsi called for early parliamentary elections. The National Salvation Front said it would boycott the vote. A court cancelled the election saying Morsi did not clear the schedule with the cabinet or prime minister.
Massive anti-government protests took place on June 30, 2013. As many as one million people took to the streets and called for Morsi to step down. On July 1, the military issued a statement saying they would step in if Morsi did not respond to the protesters within 48 hours. On July 4, the military deposed Morsi and suspended the constitution. Morsi was taken into custody. Adli Mansour, the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, was sworn in as interim president. On July 5, thousands of Morsi supporters, organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, took to the streets in Cairo.
On July 16, 2013, an interim government took office with Hazem el-Beblawy as prime minister. Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was named deputy prime minister and retained his post as head of defense.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets on July 26, 2013 to back the military. The next day, members of the Muslim Brotherhood staged a demonstration in support of Morsi, which turned violent with over 80 people killed and hundreds injured.
Despite the escalating violence, Morsi supporters set up protest camps. Riot police raided the camps on August 14, 2013. Hundreds of people were killed and the government declared a state of emergency. Egypt's Vice President Mohamed El Baradei resigned in protest of the crackdown. On August 18, at least 36 prisoners were killed attempting to escape when security forces fired tear gas inside of the prison truck transporting them. On August 19, militants killed at least 24 police officers in the Sinai peninsula.
Violence erupted again in October 2013 when members of the Muslim Brotherhood took to the streets in Cairo. The protests were met with gunfire by riot police. At least 50 people were killed. President Obama announced that the U.S. would temporarily suspend financial and military aid to Egypt.
A draft of the new constitution was released in December 2013. The constitution outlaws religious political parties, which would ban the Muslim Brotherhood. The constitution was put to a referendum in January 2014 with 98% voting in favor. The Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the vote.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Cairo on January 25, 2014, the third anniversary of the uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak. Violence broke out between rival anti-government groups.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawy and several members of his cabinet resigned on February 24, 2014. Beblawy was replaced by Ibrahim Mehlib.
In March 2014, a judge in Minya sentenced 529 people to death for the killing of a police officer during protests against the ouster of Mohamed Morsi.
On March 26, 2014, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi resigned as defense minister and announced his intention to run for president.
In April 2014, a court in Minya sentenced over 680 more people to death relating to riots and the murder of a police officer. Those sentenced included Mohamed Badie, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Most of those sentenced were members of the Muslim Brotherhood or supporters.
Voter turnout in the May 2014 presidential election was so low that officials added a third day of voting and declared that day a state holiday. In June, former army chief, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, was declared president.
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