Egypt in Transition

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

V
The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations

'First we must end our disputes with Britain.' Such were more or less the terms used by the first of many officers who used to expound to us tirelessly 'the tasks of the revolution' during the régime's early days. The disputes with London were, first, the most important of all questions for Egypt, in other words its relations with the Sudan; and, second, the problem which most irked nationalist feelings, the occupation of the Canal Zone, which for Egyptians was a kind of Alsace-Lorraine.

Well, before the Israelis (who were one of the remoter causes of the military revolt) it was the British whom the Egyptians regarded as needing the most immediate attention, and this was especially so for the officers, with their attention naturally focused on military problems and being much more familiar with what concerned the Sudan than were their predecessors. It must be noted here, to avoid repeating it, that if the Egyptian people as a whole harbour a deeprooted rancour against the British, for the stiff Tel el Kebir staffofficers, for the cold impersonal administration of former times, yet it is unusual for an Egyptian not to feel a vague, indefinable respect when he is in the presence of an Englishman. It is not a matter of memories, which would most likely be unpleasant. Complexes? They hardly know what complexes are, except for those connected with sex. 'It isn't the Egyptians who detest the British, but the British who detest the Egyptians,' Azzam Pasha remarked to us one day, with his melancholy air. What is worth remembering is, briefly, that the Egyptians are capable of approaching an English negotiator without too many preconceived ideas, without harbouring too many blind resentments, and this is especially true of the officers who were formed on the British model, for whom the language they used at work was English, and who, being fiercely pro-German during the war, must have felt some respect for those who beat Rommel.

In August 1952 the British, well disposed towards the Officers' régime -- Mr Churchill had said he 'followed its efforts with sym-

-196-

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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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