Divided and Conquered, 1840–1883
Though normal conditions returned around 1840, the balance of power in the broader region had been fundamentally changed because the mega-drought had created the conditions for the Egyptian conquest of the ARSL. Pastoralist communities, which had historically been able to flexibly maneuver in ways that allowed them to maintain their autonomy, were unable on their own to mount an effective resistance to Egypt’s imperial expansion because they were no longer a unified front. Traditional pastoral leaders and the Islamic new religious elites were locked in a power struggle, which Egyptian officials manipulated to their advantage. Egyptian officials turned both groups against their own followers by offering to protect their privilege in exchange for their collaboration in extracting as much tribute as possible from the already suffering population.