Vilayet of EgyptLeader: Muhammad Ali of EgyptHistory:
Taking advantage of the power vacuum left in Egypt due to the departure of the Napoleonic Expedition which had taken it from the Ottoman Empire in the last years of the eighteenth century, Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Albanian commander who was part of the Ottoman forces sent to reoccupy Egypt, used the personal troops under his employ as well as his canny political skills to play the old elites and his fellow newcomers against each other, eventually rising to power as Egypt's new governor. As the Napoleonic Wars wound down, he dispatched his chief rivals, the Mamluks, through a bloody massacre that broke their power forever.
This allowed him to pass vital reforms without interference, such as the nationalization of land and the taxation of charitable endowments. Through a monopoly on trade and the improvement of Egypt's much-neglected agricultural system, he made enough revenue to not just buy Western weapons, but build factories that produced muskets and a shipyard capable of building 100-gun warships (this was IRL). He built dams, and technical schools, and allowed European Businesses to enter the country as long as they contributed part of their profits to his treasury. This allowed for rapid modernization and development, especially as he also sent students to Europe in order to make sure that he had specialists who knew how his weapons worked.
Eventually, he managed to provoke a dispute between himself and the Governor of Syria (which included everything from Antioch to Jerusalem at this time), which he used as a cassus belli for rebelling against the Ottoman Empire and invading it, bringing it down to its knees with his new modernized army, which advanced almost to Constantinople itself until the West sent an ultimatum: Back down or be broken. When he refused, he met his first serious setback, with his forces and navy being defeated and being beaten back to Cicilia, where he managed to save his conquests by making hasty diplomatic concessions, including pledging loyalty to the Sultan in exchange for continued rulership of Southeastern Anatolia and the Levant.
As he reconsolidated his position, the next challenge was a rebellion in Palestine, where high taxes and loss of power caused both peasants and local elites to revolt against his rule. Crushing this rebellion with immense brutality (a dark side to his rule), Muhammad Ali rebuilt his modern army and navy, careful to deal delicately with the Europeans so that they do not interfere. During that time, he sent expeditions south to make sure the region of Sudan was under his thumb, providing valuable gold to further finance his modernization programs while securing the best possible education for his sons and grandsons.
His ambitions were temporarily held in check by his realization that the European Powers would brook no threat to the status quo in the Middle East, and so Muhammad Ali focused on Sudan and the Levant and their development. Sudan was both brutally pacified and searched for mineral resources, while Greater Syria's cities, including Jerusalem and Damascus, were put under the new central administration. Plans were also made to take advantage of Ethiopia's troubles to the south, as that country was still in civil war...