National Party (Egypt)

views updated Jun 11 2018


egyptian nationalist movement and political party.

The National Party (al-Hizb al-Watani) is the name of two successive movements of Egyptian resistance against foreign economic or political control. The first emerged in November 1879, after Khedive Ismaʿil ibn Ibrahim's deposition. Although purportedly an Egyptian protest movement against the privileges of Turks and Circassians and against the Anglo-French Dual Financial Control, its initial patron was probably Prince Halim, who claimed that Ismaʿil had deprived him of the khedivate. Former Premier Muhammad Sharif, a constitutionalist, also claimed to have formed the party. During the Urabi revolt (18811882), it became associated with the most radical elements in the National Assembly and the officer corps, but it lacked a formal organization, and it is not easy to determine its role in the revolt. When British troops occupied Egypt in September 1882 to restore order, the party vanished.

The National Party was revived in 1893 as a secret society, under the aegis of Khedive Abbas Hilmi II and with strong ties to the government of the Ottoman Empire. Its leaders were Mustafa Kamil, Muhammad Farid, and several other professional men educated in Egyptian and European schools. In the 1890s the party disseminated propaganda in Europe against the British occupation of Egypt and among Egyptians to back the khedive against the British agent and consul general, Lord Cromer (Evelyn Baring). In 1900 Mustafa Kamil founded a daily newspaper, al-Liwa (The banner), which became the National Party's organ. The Nationalists broke with Abbas in 1904, but they became reconciled after the 1906 Dinshaway Incident. Mustafa Kamil publicized the party's existence in his long speech of 22 October 1907 and convened the first Nationalist assembly in December. Its main goals were to persuade the British by peaceful means to withdraw their occupying army from Egypt and to obtain a democratic constitution from Khedive Abbas.

Mustafa Kamil died two months later, and the Nationalists chose Muhammad Farid to succeed him. Farid tried to widen the party's appeal by circulating petitions demanding a constitution and by supporting the Young Turk revolution in Constantinople. It split, however, over whether to cooperate with the khedive in spite of his reconciliation with the British, whether to espouse pan-Islam even if doing so would alienate the Copts (Egyptian Orthodox Christians), and whether to seek Egypt's liberation by legal or by revolutionary means. Cromer's successors, Sir Eldon Gorst and Lord Herbert Horatio Kitchener, encouraged the khedive and his ministers to muzzle the press and, after a Nationalist killed Premier Butros Ghali in February 1910, passed special laws, banned or suspended newspapers, and jailed editorseven Faridto intimidate and weaken the party. Farid's departure from Egypt in 1912 left the party leaderless and divided. During World War I, its emigré leaders sided against the Britishthat is, with the Ottoman Empire and Germanybut British security measures prevented them from inspiring an Egyptian uprising. The Nationalists aided the Wafd in the 1919 revolution and, when parliamentary rule was established in 1923, ran candidates for election. Led by Hafiz Ramadan, the National Party remained a small but vocal element in the fabric of Egyptian politics until the 1952 revolution, after which all political parties were abolished. Its name was incorporated by Anwar alSadat into his National Democratic Party, but the party itself was never revived.

see also abbas hilmi ii; baring, evelyn; dinshaway incident (1906); gorst, john eldon; ismaʿil ibn ibrahim; kitchener, horatio herbert; wafd; young turks.


Deeb, Marius. Party Politics in Egypt: The Wafd and Its Rivals, 19191939. London: Ithaca Press for the Middle East Centre; Oxford: St. Antony's College, 1979.

Gershoni, Israel, and Jankowski, James P. Egypt, Islam, and the Arabs: The Search for Egyptian Nationhood, 19001930. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Goldschmidt, Arthur. "The Egyptian Nationalist Party, 18921919." In Political and Social Change in Modern Egypt: Historical Studies from the Ottoman Conquest to the United Arab Republic, edited by P. M. Holt. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.

Schoch, Alexander. Egypt for the Egyptians! The Socio-Political Crisis in Egypt, 18781882. London: Ithaca Press for the Middle East Centre; Oxford: St. Antony's College, 1981.

arthur goldschmidt

National Party (Syria)

views updated Jun 11 2018


alliance of syrian urban upper-class notables and politicians, formed in 1947 with damascus as its center.

During the French mandate period in Syria (19201946), this alliance of notables and politicians had formed the Damascus branch of the National Bloc (al-Kutla al-Wataniyya), which had led Syria's nationalist political struggle against the French. The most prominent leaders of the National party (alHizb al-Watani) were Shukri al-Quwatli, Jamil Mardam, Faris al-Khuri, Lutfi al-Haffar, and Sabri al-Asali.

The National party did not have a modern political party structurerather, it depended on its leaders, their loosely organized followings, and their extended family relations. Socially, the party represented industrial and merchant interests, which favored independence from France, in contrast to the largely more conservative landowning milieu, which was luke-warm toward such a prospect. The position of the National party together with the position of its Aleppo-based rival, the People's Party (Hizb al-Shaʿb), was undermined in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This took place through the rise of more radical political parties like the Baʿth party and by the increased role of the military in Syria's politics during that period.

see also baʿth, al-; mardam, jamil; national bloc; quwatli, shukri al-.


Khoury, Philip. Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 19201945. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Seale, Patrick. The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics, 19451958. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965.

mahmoud haddad

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National Party