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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
IBRAHIM PASHA (1789-1848), Egyptian general, is sometimes spoken of as the adopted son of Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt. He is also and more commonly called his son. He was born in his father's native town, Kavala in Thrace. During his father's struggle to establish himself in Egypt, Ibrahim, then sixteen years of age, was sent as a hostage to the Ottoman capitan pasha (admiral), but when Mehemet Ali was recognized as pasha, and had defeated the English expedition under General A. M. Fraser, he was allowed to return to Egypt. When Mehemet Ali went to Arabia to prosecute the war against the Wahhabis in 1813, Ibrahim was left in command in Upper Egypt. He continued the war with the broken power of the Mamelukes, whom he suppressed. In 1816 he succeeded his brother Tusun in command of the Egyptian forces in Arabia. Mehemet Ali had already begun to introduce European discipline into his army, and Ibrahim had probably received some training, but his first campaign was conducted more in the old Asiatic style than his later operations. The campaign lasted two years, and terminated in the destruction of the Wahhabis as a political power. Ibrahim landed at Yembo, the port of Medina, on the 30th of September 1816. The holy cities had been recovered from the Wahhabis, and Ibrahim's task was to follow them into the desert of Nejd and destroy their fortresses. Such training as the Egyptian troops had received, and their artillery, gave them a marked superiority in the open field. But the difficulty of crossing the desert to the Wahhabi stronghold of Deraiya, some 400 m. east of Medina, and the courage of their opponents, made the conquest a very arduous one. Ibrahim displayed great energy and tenacity, sharing all the hardships of his army, and never allowing himself to be discouraged by failure. By the end of September 1818 he had forced the Wahhabi leader to surrender, and had taken Deraiya, which he ruined. On the 11th of December 1819 he made a triumphal entry into Cairo. After his return he gave effective support to the Frenchman, Colonel Seve (Suleiman Pasha), who was employed to drill the army on the European model. Ibrahim set an example by submitting to be drilled as a recruit. When in 1824 Mehemet Ali was appointed governor of the Morea by the sultan, who desired his help against the insurgent Greeks, he sent Ibrahim with a squadron and an army of 17,000 men. The expedition sailed on the 10th of July 1824, but was for some months unable to do more than come and go between Rhodes and Crete. The fear of the Greek fire ships stopped his way to the Morea. When the Greek sailors mutinied from want of pay, he was able to land at Modon on the 26th of February 1825. He remained in the Morea till the capitulation of the 1st of October 1828 was forced on him by the intervention of the Western powers. Ibrahim's operations in the Morea were energetic and ferocious. He easily defeated the Greeks in the open field, and though the siege of Missolonghi proved costly to his own troops and to the Turks who operated with him, he brought it to a successful termination on the 24th of April 1826. The Greek guerrilla bands harassed his army, and in revenge he desolated the country and sent thousands of the inhabitants into slavery in Egypt. These measures of repression aroused great indignation in Europe, and led first to the intervention of the English, French and Russian squadrons (see Navarino, Battle Of), and then to the landing of a French expeditionary force. By the terms of the capitulation of the 1st of October 1828, Ibrahim evacuated the country. It is fairly certain that the Turkish government, jealous of his power, had laid a plot to prevent him and his troops from returning to Egypt. English officers who saw him at Navarino describe him as short, grossly fat and deeply marked with smallpox. His obesity did not cause any abatement of activity when next he took the field. In 1831, his father's quarrel with the Porte having become flagrant, Ibrahim was sent to conquer Syria. He carried out his task with truly remarkable energy. He took Acre after a severe siege on the 27th of May 1832, occupied Damascus, defeated a Turkish army at Homs on the 8th of July, defeated another Turkish army at Beilan on the 29th of July, invaded Asia Minor, and finally routed the grand vizier at Konia on the 21st of December. The convention of Kutaiah on the 6th of May left Syria for a time in the hands of Mehemet Ali. Ibrahim was undoubtedly helped by Colonel Seve and the European officers in his army, but his intelligent docility to their advice, as well as his personal hardihood and energy, compare most favourably with the sloth, ignorance and arrogant conceit of the Turkish generals opposed to him. He is entitled to full credit for the diplomatic judgment and tact he showed in securing the support of the inhabitants, whom he protected and whose rivalries he utilized. After the campaign of 1832 and 1833 Ibrahim remained as governor in Syria. He might perhaps have administered successfully, but the exactions he was compelled to enforce by his father soon ruined the popularity of his government and provoked revolts. In 1838 the Porte felt strong enough to renew the struggle, and war broke out once more. Ibrahim won his last victory for his father at Nezib on the 24th of June 1839. But Great Britain and Austria intervened to preserve the integrity of Turkey.
Their squadrons cut his communications by sea with Egypt, a general revolt isolated him in Syria, and he was finally compelled to evacuate the country in February 1841. Ibrahim spent the rest of his life in peace, but his health was ruined. In 1846 he paid a visit to western Europe, where he was received with some respect and a great deal of curiosity. When his father became imbecile in 1848 he held the regency till his own death on the 10th of November 1848.
See Edouard Gouin, L' E gypte au XIX e siecle (Paris, 1847); Aime Vingtrinier, Soliman-Pasha (Colonel Seve ) (Paris, 1886). A great deal of unpublished material of the highest interest with regard to Ibrahim's personality and his system in Syria is preserved in the British Foreign Office archives; for references to these see Cambridge Mod. Hist. x. 852, bibliography to chap. xvii.
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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Ibrahim Pasha'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/i/ibrahim-pasha.html. 1910.