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It is the Market Economy dear boy

Reader comment on item: Turkey, Closest to Leading the Middle East
in response to reader comment: A good old Mahometan tradition

Submitted by Mozere (United Kingdom), Feb 5, 2013 at 04:48

Ianus says; So the picture that emerges from Egypt by the 10th century is an Egypt that was wealthy and the bread basket of the ancient world to a very poor underpopulated country deep into the dark ages and one can only blame the Arabs and their invasion of Egypt

It is the market economy dear boys Ianus and DNM.

Ptelomeic Egypt was rich because it exported grain to a populous Roman Empire.Bread was subsidised by the Romans which unfairly raised the demand for Egyptian produce.Byzantines were also importing grain from Egypt but already the Crimean grain was competing for the market,so the Egypt of 7th century AD was not as wealthy as the Ptelomeic Egypt.Did the ordinary Egyptian profit from this trade?Probably the foreign overlords of Ptolemys and Byzantine magnates creamed off most of it,which left the indigenous Copts seething with resentment,which spilled over into religious contraversies of Arianism,Nestorianism,the seemingly interminable exile/ amnesty of bishop Athenegoras.The scene was ripe for Egypt to fall like a rotten apple into the lap of the Arab invaders/liberators ,take your pick.

Thus the Markets of byzantines were severed and the byzantines switched suppliers to the Crimea.The Arab market was already supplied by the safer,nearer and just as fertile Iraq,add to this the artficially irrigated bustans of Syria,(the prototypes for the Arab irrigation of the huelvos of al andalus) .The demand for Egyptian grain had collapsed,the fellahin had to abandon their villages,no funds for new buildings.It is laughable to say that Islamic armies deliberately destroyed the agricultural infra structure ,when Egypt could yield more tax revenue,and when the same armies introduced into visigothic Spanish huelvas syrian methods of irrigation by which they introduced Europeans to sugar cane,cotton and oranges(naranj in arabic which evolved to orange,which in turn were reintroduced to the ME under the name portakal a corruption of Portugal).You may as well blame the 80s devastation of Sheffield on muslim immigration rather than collapse in demand of steel.

Under the ottomans the demand for Egyptian produce remained low,because Istanbuls grain came mostly from the Crimea and Bassarabia,Egypt received a further blow when the Portuguese found the way to India,thus ending the red sea trade where the east asian goods were transported over the isthmus of Suez to Alexandria,the Ottomans vainly sent their navy into the Indian Oceans to fight the Portuguese and safeguard this lucrative trade.

Egypts fortunes revived at the end of 18th century when the Ottomans after having lost the Crimea and Bessarabia turned to Egyptian grain,then cotton was planted for the benefit of the mills of Bolton and Manchester,wealth falling into the hands of Ottoman beys can now be seen in the yalis lining the Bosphorus,kiosks in Erenkoy being thoughtlessly demolished to make way for the arriviste and somewhat philistine Turkish bourgeoisie.The fellahin did not get much.The Greek and Armenian subjects of the Sultan,the merchants of Alexandria also got their shares in this feeding frenzy.

When the Suez canal was built in 1860s the temptation proved too much for the European Imperialists and the British promptly invaded and paid off the French.The fellahin did not get much.

Submitting....

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