Great Britain and Egypt, 1914-1951

Great Britain and Egypt, 1914-1951

Great Britain and Egypt, 1914-1951

Great Britain and Egypt, 1914-1951

Excerpt

It is the purpose of this book to present an account of the political and economic evolution of Anglo-Egyptian relations from the outbreak of the First World War to the Egyptian abrogation of the alliance in October 1951. A recent leading article in The Times remarked that the post-war negotiations between the British and the Egyptian Governments had failed 'because one is using a long-wave and the other a short-wave set'. This seems to be one way of saying that from the beginning of their association the British have been thinking primarily in terms of imperial defensive strategy embracing the Mediterranean and the western half of the Indian Ocean, in which Lower Egypt was a vital pivot, while the Egyptian Government's and people's range of vision was almost entirely restricted to the narrower confines of the Nile Valley. The temporary understanding of 1936 brought about by the threat which the expansionist policy of Fascist Italy presented to both British and Egyptian interests seemed to show that their different points of view were still not entirely irreconcilable. But they continued to diverge because the British, perhaps inevitably, regarded the situation from the standpoint of conserving a position advantageous to themselves, while the Egyptians were just as inevitably trying to get away from a situation which they found humiliating. Moreover, the changes brought about in the Middle East by the Second World War, the Palestinian War, and the creation of the State of Israel, served not merely to change the balance of power in the Middle East but also to strengthen the growing nationalism which had made itself felt between the wars.

It is perhaps unavoidable that a record based largely on British official documents and the British press and only to a lesser extent directly on Egyptian sources should tend to present the British point of view in greater detail than the Egyptian. A summary is therefore given in Appendix VI of the principal arguments on which the Egyptians base their case (although it is fair to add that an understanding of those arguments has frequently been obscured by the exaggerations and distortions of Egyptian politicians and journalists).

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