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Egypt and much of Palestine were controlled by the Arab Shi ' ite Fatimid Caliphate, which had extended further into Syria before the arrival of the Seljuqs.
Warfare between the Fatimids and Seljuqs caused great disruption for the local Christians and for western pilgrims.
The Fatimids, under the nominal rule of caliph al-Musta ' li but actually controlled by vizier al-Afdal Shahanshah, had lost Jerusalem to the Seljuqs in 1073 ; they recaptured it in 1098 from the Artuqids, a smaller Turkish tribe associated with the Seljuqs, just before the arrival of the crusaders.

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