With opposition political activity tightly restricted, decades of popular frustration erupted into mass demonstrations in 2011. Ḥosnī Mubārak to step down, leaving a council of military officers in control of the country.Power was transferred to an elected government in 2012, and a new constitution was adopted at the end of the year.Despite the incongruent ethnicity of successive ruling groups and the cosmopolitan nature of Egypt’s larger urban centres, the language and culture of the rural, agrarian masses—whose lives were largely measured by the annual rise and fall of the Nile River, with its annual inundation—had changed only marginally throughout the centuries.
In the north its Mediterranean coastline is about 620 miles (1,000 km), and in the east its coastline on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba is about 1,200 miles (1,900 km). For about 750 miles (1,200 km) of its northward course through the country, the river cuts its way through bare desert, its narrow valley a sharply delineated strip of green, abundantly fecund in contrast to the desolation that surrounds it.
From Lake Nasser, the river’s entrance into southern Egypt, to Cairo in the north, the Nile is hemmed into its trenchlike valley by bordering cliffs, but at Cairo these disappear, and the river begins to fan out into its delta.
This elected government, however, was toppled a year later when the military intervened to remove the newly elected president, Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, following a series of massive public demonstrations against his administration.
(For a discussion of unrest and political change in Egypt in 2011, Egypt Uprising of 2011.)The ancient Greek historian Herodotus called Egypt the “gift of the Nile.” Indeed, the country’s rich agricultural productivity—it is one of the region’s major food producers—has long supported a large rural population devoted to working the land. The capital city, Cairo, is one of the world’s largest urban agglomerations, and manufacturing and trade have increasingly outstripped agriculture as the largest sectors of the national economy.
Jeff Flake, who has not ruled out running against Donald Trump for the White House, on Sunday criticized as a “diversion tactic” the president’s unsubstantiated allegation last week of an FBI “spy” being planted in his election campaign.