Global Diplomatic Influence on Egypt

The Egyptian Gazette was a popular newspaper company that first published its one of a kind for the Middle East English newspaper in the year 1880, and enjoyed a long tenure of success. The paper covered a range of topics anywhere from the daily necessities such as weather reports, stock exchanges, and market prices, to bold current event storylines. Records of this newspaper are stored on a series of microfilms, or a length of film containing a series of microphotographic images of each issue. Over about a fifteen week period, these microfilms were scanned through a reader, resulting in digital images far more commonly used in today’s times. From these digital images of the newspaper, structure and components of each issue were confounded into a searchable database through the use of an OCR scanning software, which could take the digital images and produce a textual file. With these text files, countless forms of coding and labeling could be utilized to better understand the abundance of information being dealt with. Specifically analyzing the full year’s issue of 1905, the micro history of Egyptian culture was a seemingly endless database of stories and information of the early twentieth century. One of the most interesting aspects of this form of research involves analyzing the point of view of the Egyptians during this time, especially in the face of global conflict. While this time period was not necessarily the most gruesome in history, conflict throughout Europe and Asia was still prominent. The most major militaristic involvement of this time period involved the Russo-Japanese War, as well as the ripples of effects it had on European superpowers, as well as the Egyptians themselves. In a far less globally connected world during this time, Egypt played a sort of third party neutral nation, as is evident in the analysis of the paper. The writers of the Egyptian Gazette seemed to personify a consistent mentality throughout the nation of Egypt, being aware of global affairs, yet seemingly only interested in remaining neutral in the pursuit of national economic benefit.

Through the coding and labeling of the full year of 1905 in a single and complete database, querying for specific keywords, data tables, or quantities produced rapid results. In the pursuit of better understanding the effects European and Asian powers had on the Egyptians, looking into the development of certain treaties between nations led to plenty of results. A consistent theme throughout the duration of the year was the following of Japanese and Russian relationships, and along with these two, the nations that had ties to them via treaties. Along with the names of a number of these treaties, keywording specific city names where these treaties were signed produced a number of results. As the storyline of the Russo- Japanese War was closely followed, points of battle and city names opened the door to even more relevant data regarding global diplomacy. Finally, through querying the headings of the year’s issue regarding these keywords, large sections of data were discovered containing the writer’s views of the effects these global affairs would have on the Egyptian people, as well as what they believed the best course of action would be in response.

From the compilation of these treaties, city names, and places of war through querying, a number of potential visual representations were available. In the case of this analysis a map was produced marking the location of major treaty signings and major battle points, along with a brief description of the situation at each location. This was done through utilizing a data interpreting software called Palladio. From the querying results, the locations of these major events were plotted in a geocoding program, which would return latitude and longitude coordinates to be displayed on a world map. This coordinate plotting was done on an add-on software to google sheets called ezGeocode. After inserting excel table data including the location name, the coordinates, the name of the event, and a brief description, an interactive map capable of zooming and scrolling was produced. In order to view the map the text string at the end of the paper must first be copy and pasted into an editing software and a file saved.
After this, clicking the following URL link will open a page where this saved file can be loaded for viewing. While the Palladio software is very good at interpreting data, there is no form of saving customized tables or graphs, making this process necessary. The map provides a simple visual aid to help better understand global affairs of the time, as well as set the stage for the analysis of the writers’ views of these global affairs.

Through the compilation of all these global affairs topics, it is much easier to look into what exactly the effects these affairs would have had on the everyday Egyptian citizen, as evident in the stories composed by the writers of the Egyptian Gazette. Of course, the primary role of the writers was to relay the news of these events. The most highly covered storyline involved the Russ-Japanese territorial dispute over spheres of influence in Korea and Manchuria. The war would go on to be initiated by a Japanese surprise naval attack at Port Arthur. Arguably more important that the simple relaying of events was the writers’ delving into what they believed the global economic impact these events would cause. For example, with the Japanese control over many Korean ports, they dominated the Far East trade market over the likes of the Americas and European nations. As a result, it is pointed how this effects Egyptian trade, as relations with some European nations was far better than that of Japan.
Through this global conflict and its eventual conclusion in August of the year 1905, a series of other diplomatic effects came into play. Because of the renowned Anglo-Japanese treaty signed by the English, any Russian advancement made on Japan, an idea which certainly was not too unlikely, would draw the English into the mix. It is this point that receives quite close attention, as this is where the Egyptians potentially could get drawn into the mix. With the Anglo-Japanese treaty stating the two nations will assist one another in defense of their territorial targets, the nation of India and its land in Afghanistan comes to the table of potential conflict. This represents a far more localized center of conflict to the nation of Egypt, and certainly represents a talking point within the paper.

The year of 1905 represents a major point of European influence throughout the African continent as the pursuit of resources and colonies was highly sought after. Throughout the Egyptian Gazette, another major storyline of diplomatic influence from European nations comes with French and British prominence throughout Egypt and Morocco, a nation slightly west of Egypt on the continent of Africa. As is reported in the paper, Moroccan leaders were willing to accept the counsel of French advisories, and the British were willing to let the French influence Morocco in return they could influence Egypt. The writers of the paper make a point of noting that this agreement between French and Britain was not an exchanging of “rights” in the respective nations of Egypt and Morocco, as they recognized these were not their “rights” to give away. It is also pointed out to the Egyptian people, following rumors of a potential Anglo- Russian agreement, that a British statesman could not simply just offer up Constantinople to Russia. Overall, in regard to Egyptian nationalism and relationships with European nations, the writers of the Egyptian Gazette have a sort of air of confidence surrounding their compositions.
Although this may come as a shock, their viewpoint of the European nations came as somewhat of a positive one. Egypt allowed for the opening of the important Suez canal for French and British use, which allowed for a number of economic benefits from the increase of traffic.
However, the German’s at times did not receive as many positive reviews. Although they were far more distant to the Egyptians due to the diplomatic system of the time, talk over their interest in Morocco did appear from time to time. The tone of writing regarding the Germans may have held a slight more suspicious format, potentially because of their relationship with Russia, which they were later discovered to have a secret alliance with one another.

The analysis of micro historical topics surrounding a piece of literature evident in the average citizen’s everyday life is an extremely interesting topic. Looking into the drastic changes that can take place within a nation even over the period of only one year creates a
sense of appreciation for the importance and expanse history really offers. Through scanning microfilms and converting the files to a textual database, querying certain keywords or place
names allowed for the deciphering of massive amounts of information. Examining the tone and style of authorship of a newspaper in a nation consistency neutral in global conflicts was a very interesting topic, and one which really allowed for an unbiased understanding of global events of the time. Along with this, the following of these events and the potential effects they could have on the nation of Egypt to the everyday person is often difficult information to come by. Somewhat surprisingly, the writers of the paper did not seem to mind European influence throughout the continent of Africa, especially from the nations of France and Egypt. The writers seemed to represent the overall objectives of Egyptian diplomacy, a nation avoiding unnecessary conflict and consistently in pursuit of economic benefits.

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Logan Wills
Logan Wills

The author, a student at Florida State University, was enrolled in the digital microhistory lab in fall 2016.