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Battle of Omdurman Cause and Effect Essay


The battle of Omdurman took place on the 2nd of September 1898. It was a decisive battle that established the power of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium government on the territory of the present-day Sudan:

“In 1898 Kitchener led a force of 8,200 British troops, 17,600 Sudanese and Egyptians up the Nile to capture a city in the Sudan called Omdurman, the Dervish capital across the river from Khartoum” (“The Battle of Omdurman-Sudan 1898” n. pg.).

As a result, the state of Sudan was destroyed and the territory became a British colony, This reconquest was a major international event in both African and European contexts” (Spiers 9).This battle predetermined future historical development of the country.

The results of the battle made its contribution to current developments in international security policy. “The Battle of Omdurman is perhaps the best known single episode of the Sudan campain” (Keown-Boyd 95).

Before analyzing the results and influence of the battle, we should explore the historical background of it. So, today Sudan is the largest country of the Arab world which is situated in the northeastern Africa. As Levy and Latif write in their book Sudan, “It is a place where African and Arab cultures mingle, Sudan is home to a physically, religiously, and culturally diverse people” (5).

This diversity is the result of a historical development of the country. For a very long time it was under the Turco-Egyptian rule. Since 1821 till 1881, “the south of Sudan was now open for the first time to the sustainable influence of the north, and trading networks were established. (Peters 15). Under the Egypt governance, the infrastructure of Sudan’s economy improved greatly, especially in cotton production.

After 1882, when the British Empire occupied the territory of Egypt, the Khedivial government was established in the country with its corruption. When Europeans introduced the company against the slave trade, the economic development of the country decreased which resulted in economic crisis.

It was one of the leading factors that caused the rise of Mahdist forces, who had two major victories in 1885, “when they captured Kassala and Sennar” (Featherstone 7). Mahdi was a religious leader who managed to lead the northern tribes to a successful fight against the Turco-Egyptian rule. In 1884, the British government offered to general Gordon to evacuate Egyptian people, but the operation was unsuccessful.

“The Mahdists held power for 13 years while Britain and other colonial powers conquered other regions of Africa” (Levy and Latif 27) and in this time, the his government did nothing to restore a social order in the country. General Herbert Kitchener was sent to Sudan and it was under his commandment when the country was invaded by the Anglo-Egyptian army under his rule.

In the battle of Omdurman, “Major General Sir Herbert Kitchener defeated the Mahdist forces under the command of Abdullah el-Taaishi” (Boddy-Evans n. pg.). Kitchener’s forces moved slowly, they occupied Dongala. Mahdi did not consider the attacks as something serious and “sent 14,000 men to attack the British near Atara” (Hickman n. pg.).

The success of the British army was guaranteed as they were equipped with the latest military defense technology, “The Khalifa’s plan of attack appears to have been complex and ingenious.

It was, however, based on an extraordinary miscalculation of the power of modern weapons; with the exception of this cardinal error, it is not necessary to criticize it” (Churchill 270). The battle continued for several hours until the whole army of Khalif was destroyed. The battle was a starting point for establishing of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium:

“Some measure of relief would only arrive with the defeat of Mahdist forces at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 followed by the formation of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium government” (Miner n. pg.).

During the Anglo-Egyptian rule, the major focus of the economical development was on the rise of agriculture. In 1922 “closed areas” were introduced in some regions on order to control the “internal slave trade”. In addition, :restrictions on work and travel were used in some provinces to control the spread of Muslim influence” (Peters 16).

By the mid 1930th, two regions of the country, North and South, became almost fully separated from each other. By the 1946, the road to independence was opened. The British government was trying to prevent the claims of Egypt to control Sudan and began the program that should be resulted in the independence of Sudan from Egypt. In 1954, Sudan became an independent state.

The consequences of the battle influenced on the current development of the international security politics.

The major task is to maintain peace and prevent internal and external military conflicts and enhance human security, “What is fundamentally important is to acknowledge that ‘reconciliation’ at all politico-social levels, including at a grass-root level within different communities, is the key to ending conflict and reconstructing peace” (Inoguchi n. pg.)

In addition, Sudanese intellectuals should thing about the reasons why after 50 years of independence from Britain, “we are still unable reach a consensus on a way to govern the country that will allow all Sudanese to contribute to its social and economic development” (Mohamed 1).

Thus, the results of the battle of Omdurman had a great influence on the further historical and political development of the country and influenced on the current developments in international security politics.

Works Cited

Boddy-Evans, Alistair. Battle of Omdurman. 2 Sep. 2009. Web.

Hickman, Kennedy. Mahdist War: Battle of Omdurman. About.com Guide. Web.

Churchill, Winston S. The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan. San Diego: Icon Group International, Inc., 2008.

Featherstone, Donald. Omdurman 1898: Kitchener’s victory in the Sudan. London: Osprey Publishing, 1993.

Inoguchi, Kuniko. Conference on the Implementation, By the Arab States, of the UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. 18 Dec. 2003. Web.

Keown-Boyd, Henry. A Good Dusting: a Centenary Review of the Sudan Campaigns 1883-1899. New York: Leo Cooper in association with Secker & Warburg, 1986.

Levy, Patricia, and Zawiah Abdul Latif. Sudan. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2007

Miner, Edward. The Historical Background of Missionary Activity in the Southern Sudan. 29 Aug. 2003. Web.

Mohamed, Hafiz. Attack of Omdurman the Ramification for Sudan. Web.

Peters, Chris. Sudan: a Nation in the Balance. Oxfam: Oxfam, 1996.

Spiers, Edward M. Sudan: the Reconquest Reappraised. New York: Routledge, 1998.

“The Battle of Omdurman-Sudan 1898”. 22 Nov. 2002. Web.

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