Expeditions against Egypt

The period under our review is noted for the Ismaili dais to have launched a brisk and pervasive mission in Egypt, where most of the officials and nobles had espoused Ismailism and entered into correspondence with al-Mahdi in Maghrib. Hence, Egypt offered an easier prey and to invade it was indubitably a less perilous enterprise. In 301/913, a powerful force commanded by his son, al-Qaim had been dispatched by land, and a fleet of 200 ships under Hubasa bin Yousuf against Alexandria. The Egyptian governor could not resist and acquired reinforcement from the Abbasids. Initially, the course of the expedition proceeded in al-Qaim's favour, but after capturing Alexandria, he failed before Fustat, and not being capable confrounting the Egyptian army reinforced from Baghdad under the command of Munis, he retracted his steps towards Maghrib.

In 307/919, al-Mahdi returned to the attack with a second expedition commanded again by his son. This project at first progressed favourably as the preceding with the capture of Alexandria and the occupation of Fayyum. But when the Fatimid fleet encountered disater at Rosetta due to the shortage of supplies, and the battles before Fustat turned to the advantage of the troops of Munis, al-Qaim was forced for the second time to retreat and returned to Maghrib. This time the Abbasid ships were manned by experienced Greek mariners. In sum, both invasions procured no result, but Barqa remained however in Fatimid's occupation.

Al-Mahdi seems to have organised, shortly before his death, a third expedition against Egypt. In fact, this third attemp took place in 323/935 at the beginning of the reign of his successor, al-Qaim.

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