Egypt in Transition

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

II
Power -- to what Purpose?

'Ours is a bloodless revolution,' the Egyptians proudly told Robespierre's fellow-countrymen in the month of August 1952. It was a white revolution in that there was neither a Terror nor the guillotine; but it was a khaki revolution.

Now and then, as he had to thrust his way through a throng of people, you could see a stocky man, his military shirt half-open on his hairy chest, his big dark face always breaking into the smile of some favourite uncle, his eyes glinting like anthracite under his bushy black brows. ' Yaish Mohamed Neguib!' the crowd shouted, as women held out their children towards the new prophet. Idlers and poor, galvanized wretches would be torn from their jeering indifference as he passed. 'Yaish, Yaish.'1 The man in khaki waved his cap, kissed a baby, slipped his cane under his arm and disappeared laughing into his car with one or two of his silent Captains.

He was coming from the rococo palace which housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where Ali Mahir, Prime Minister and at the same time War Minister, Minister for the Navy, Foreign Affairs and the Interior, all in one, was 'presiding' over the government. He was on his way to the paltry H.Q. buildings where, squeezed into four offices, a dozen Lieutenant-Colonels ('Bikbashis') and Majors ('Saghs') had already begun being Egypt's real rulers. Even the most obtuse foreign correspondents did not need a week to realize that Mahir, chosen to carry the 'Faruk Operation' through with as little trouble as possible, and to reassure foreign governments for the time being, was no more than a passing instrument.

What, then, lay behind Mohamed Neguib's broad smile? Who were these bronzed fellows in sand-coloured shirts; what were they after, for whom were they working fifteen hours a day in the H.Q. offices, occasionally breaking off to hold a parade, enigmatic behind their

____________________
1
'Long Live!'

-160-

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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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