Convention of El Arish

Napoleon at the Sphinx
General Kléber

The Convention of El Arish was signed on 24 January 1800 by representatives from France and the Ottoman Empire in the presence of a British representative. It was intended to bring to an end the French campaign in Egypt and Syria, with the repatriation of French troops to France and the return of all territory to the Ottomans.

In December 1799 the British government had issued orders that its commanders were not to allow a separate treaty to be agreed between the Ottomans and France in which their troops would be returned to Europe. However these instructions did not reach the British naval commander in Egypt, Sidney Smith, until after the convention had been signed. When Smith and his senior officer, Lord Keith, communicated this stipulation to the French forces the French commander Jean-Baptiste Kléber was outraged. He ordered his troops to attack the Ottomans and won the subsequent Battle of Heliopolis on 20 March. When it heard of the convention the British government agreed to honour it, but it came too late. Hostilities continued until the surrender of French forces at Alexandria in August 1802, after which the French troops were returned to France on board British ships, in accordance with the terms of the original convention.

Background

France invaded the nominally Ottoman-ruled Egypt in 1798 with an army led by Napoleon Bonaparte. Initially successful in taking control of key cities, an expedition to Syria led to defeat and Napoleon returned to France after successfully defeating Ottoman force at the Battle of Abukir in July 1799. Napoleon left command of the French forces in the hands of Jean-Baptiste Kléber. The army was in a poor position, threatened by Ottoman force under Kör Yusuf Ziyaüddin Pasha advancing from Syria and Kléber's troops were near to mutiny following their abandonment by Napoleon.[1]

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