Egypt in Transition

By Jean Lacouture; Simonne Lacouture et al. | Go to book overview

IX
The 1919 Revolution

For Egypt the 1914 war at first meant the setting up of the British Protectorate. This broke the last official links with the Caliphate and the Porte, which had been declared enemies, and also swept away the last traces of a national state. This was followed by a mass requisitioning of labour, the presence of large armed forces from overseas, the sudden growth of industry, giving rise to a still under-nourished proletariat, and the tightening of an already very irritating censorship. Then came a sudden jump in cotton prices, resulting in a rapid redistribution of wealth and a rise in the cost of living. Finally there was the proclamation of Wilson "Fourteen Points" and the AngloFrench statement of November 1918 promising the freeing of the Ottoman Empire's former vassals. In other words, all the possible elements of strain, uncertainty and hope to which a dormant people can be submitted, were present in this period. It is not surprising that it awakened in 1919 to find itself behind barricades.

It cannot be said that the proclamation of the British Protectorate in December 1914, any more than the replacement of the Khedive Abbas Hilmi by Sultan Husain (and soon after, his brother Fuad), excited Egyptian indignation, apart from a few small groups. Thirty years of dictatorship under Cromer and Kitchener had prepared their minds for any interference with their rights or feelings. Moreover, Sa'd Zaghlul, who from now on became the leading figure in Egyptian nationalism, gave excellent proof of his political wisdom in urging patience so long as the state of war lasted. But the British handling of national sovereignty tended to increase the friction between the two countries and, now that the Ottoman and Khedival factions were cut out, to result in a form of dialogue that was made the more tense by the situation that had arisen owing to the war.

The first source of disgruntlement was the requisition of men and material. We must not forget that beginning in 1914 a Labour Corps of 117,000 was raised, and that part of this unarmed 'army' had to follow the British armies to the Somme and Flanders, while the

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Egypt in Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 8
  • Introduction - Egyptian Continuity And Revolutions 11
  • Part One - The Awakening of Egypt 37
  • I - The Advent of Bonaparte 39
  • II - Mohamed Ali Creates a State 50
  • III - The Cotton Boom 56
  • IV - A Revolution in Irrigation 60
  • V - The Adventurous Khedive 63
  • VI - The Arabi Revolt 69
  • VII - The Reformers 74
  • VIII - British Technocracy 78
  • IX - The 1919 Revolution 82
  • X - The Wafd 86
  • XI - Making the Best of War -- 1939 97
  • XII - The Burning of Cairo 105
  • Part Two - The Officers' Republic 123
  • I - A Short History of the 'Free Officers' Movement 125
  • II - Power -- to What Purpose? 160
  • III - Neguib's Fall 179
  • IV - The Structure of Nasser's State 192
  • V - The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations 196
  • VI - The Political Parties 240
  • VII - Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57 275
  • VIII - Not a Real Revolution. 292
  • Part Three - Working Life in The Valley 307
  • I - The Land and Its Men 309
  • II - The Agrarian Reform 340
  • III - The Problem of Over-Population 357
  • IV - Economic Growing-Pains 362
  • V - Industrialization and Social Problems 367
  • VI - The Aswan Dam Problem 388
  • Part Four - Forging a Society 397
  • I - Cairo -- City of Convulsions 399
  • II - In Search of a National Culture 413
  • III - Egypt, Islam and the Modern World 430
  • Part Five - The Great Test 451
  • I - Nasser as He Really Is 453
  • II - The Suez Crisis 467
  • III - The Franco-British Invasion 481
  • IV - Egypt Carries On 493
  • V - The 'United Arab State' 505
  • A Chronology of Modern Egypt 515
  • Reading List 519
  • Index 523
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