Egypt in Transition

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

X
The Wafd

In every explosive situation there is always a man such as Mirabeau or Kerensky who is prepared to press the button for revolt and to become its victim or its master. Fortunately for Egypt, her wrath in 1919 was interpreted not by a lout like Arabi nor a romantic intellectual like Mustafa Kamil, but a genuine statesman, Sa'd Zaghlul, whose popularity was well deserved.

Sa'd was the typical Egyptian peasant with his broad face, bony frame, the powerful build of the manual worker, natural eloquence, determination and good humour. The son of a well-to-do fellah of Lower Egypt, he imbibed the traditional Koranic culture at El Azhar before learning French at the age of forty. As a young magistrate he had taken part in the Arabi revolt of 1882 alongside his master Mohamed Abduh. He then collaborated with the British as Minister of Education, for which service he received the compromising praise of Lord Cromer. He was anything but a fanatic: he advised the Egyptians to show restraint towards the British while the war was on. But the man who refused to profit from British difficulties in order to secure national freedom thought he had the right to demand that the Allies' victory should be shared by the 'protected' nations.

As early as the 13th of November 1918, together with two colleagues, Ali Sha'rawi and Abdul Aziz Fahmi, he appeared before the British High Commissioner, General Sir Reginald Wingate, to ask for Egypt's independence. There is no doubt whatever that he was speaking for the whole of his people, as was shown by the almost mythical value assumed by this delegation or wafd in their eyes, it becoming the germ of a party which for thirty years was to be the embodiment of Egypt's struggle for independence. His request was naturally based on the temporary nature of the Protectorate, which had been confirmed (for example) in a letter sent by George V to the Sultan Husain Kamil in 1915.

Zaghlul said to Wingate, ' England is the strongest and most liberal

-86-

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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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