In a meeting between Khedive Abbas and Lord Kitchener, on March 23, 1914, the Khedive indicated that he lost his confidence in the Nizarat of Mohammad Saeed Pasha and suggested to the British High Commissioner to request Mustafa Fahmy Pasha to form a new Nizarat knowing quite well that Fahmy Pasha was terminally ill and would decline the offer (he died on September 13, 1914). Kitchener was not very pleased with the Khedive‘s decision but he reluctantly agreed, and so did the British Government, to ask Husein Rushdy Pasha, the Minister of Justice in the Saeed Nizarat, to form a new Cabinet. 

Born in 1863, Husein Rushdy was the son of Hamdy Tapozadeh Pasha who was Deputy Minister of Interior.  He studied in Switzerland and at the Sorbonne University, in Paris, where he obtained a Law Degree. 

On his return to Egypt he opened a successful Law Office before joining the Egyptian Government Service as an Inspector of foreign languages at the Ministry of Education.  As a Judge at the Mixed Courts, he earned a well-deserved reputation of integrity. 

His first Cabinet Post was in 1908 when he served as Minister of Justice in the Butros Ghali Nizarat.  Appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1910 in the Nizarat of Mohammad Saeed Pasha, he returned to his beloved Ministry of Justice after the resignation of Saad Zaghloul Pasha from that post. 

He kept the portfolio of Justice until April 5, 1914 when he was requested by Khedive Abbas to form a new Nizarat, his first.  He died on March 14, 1928. 

The first Nizarat of Rushdy Pasha was to last seven months during which the Khedive went on his last trip overseas, never to return to Egypt, and Lord Kitchener was recalled to London followed shortly by the eruption of the First World War and the Ottoman Empire participation in that war on the side of the Centrist Empires (the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires).

The decisions adopted by the Rushdy Nizarat were al inspired by the war situation:

To preserve the neutrality of Egypt and the Suez Canal, at the beginning of that conflict, the Government decreed to stop supplying the war ships with coal in all the Egyptian Ports and the Suez Canal except when authorized by the responsible authorities.  The crossing of the Suez Canal and/or the docking of those ships in Egyptian Ports should not exceed 24 hours. 

As a result of England‘s participation in the war and its pressure on the Egyptian Government, the Rushdy Nizarat reluctantly agreed to cut all commercial relations with the Centrist Empires and their citizens and to prohibit Egyptian vessels to stop at any of their ports. 

It was decreed to completely prohibit any political demonstrations and any confrontations with the Police.  An extra secret annual budget of eight thousands pounds was allocated to the Ministry of Interior to increase its intelligence operations. 

To protect the Public Finances, it was decided to stabilize the value of the Egyptian Currency by strictly connecting it to its gold equivalent. 

Because of the circumstances of war, it was decided to reduce by fifty percent the travel allocations to the Government Officials and to temporary freeze the appointments of new employees and the promotions of existing ones.

Orders were issued to stop the export of all agricultural food products and to establish one permanent committee to guarantee the supply of food to the population and another for the supply of oil (petrol) products. 

To avoid inflation, it was decided to form committees in all the different Governorates, presided by the Governors of each, to fix the prices of grains, rice, flour, wood, eggs, butter, meat, oil, all petroleum products, salt and sugar.  Those prices were to be revised every now and then and any contravention was to be severely punished. 

On November 2, 1914, General Sir John Maxwell, the then Commanding Officer of the British Army in Egypt, imposed the martial law on all the Egyptian territories, including the Sudan.  On December 18, 1914, Egypt was declared a British Protectorate and on the following day, December 19, England removed Khedive Abbas from his Khedivial Throne, declared Egypt a Sultanate and appointed Husein Kamel, a son of Khedive Ismail and younger brother of Khedive Tewfik, as first Sultan of Egypt. As a result of that grave event, Husein Rushdy submitted the resignation of his Cabinet to the newly appointed Sultan. 

Thus ended the Nizarats of Egypt under British occupation and a new chapter of its political life was about to begin.  The new Sultanate abolished the title of “Nizarats” replacing it with the titles of Prime Ministers and Ministers as prevailing in the Western World. 

Sultan Husein Kamel, son of Khedive Ismail, was born on November 1853 in Cairo where he received an education, which was to be continued in Paris.  Charged by his father to look after Public Works, he ordered the construction of the railroad from central Cairo to Helwan and opened the first state school for girls at Al-Suyufyya.  When Khedive Ismail was exiled, Husein Kamel accompanied him for three years then returned to Egypt and supervised the farming of his own lands. 

He also served on the boards of several Egyptian and Foreign companies.  He organized Egypt ‘s first agricultural fair and inaugurated a flower show at the Ezbekya Garden in 1896.  One of the leaders of the Islamic Benevolent Society, he was sympathetic to Egypt‘s peasants and hostile to the National Party (Al Hizb Al Watany).  He chaired the Legislative Council in 1909-1910, resigning after the General Assembly rejected the Suez Canal Company concession extension.  On December 19, 1914, when his nephew, Khedive Abbas Helmi the Second, was deposed by the British and Egypt was severed from the Ottoman Empire and declared a Sultanate under British protection, England named Husein Kamel the first Sultan of Egypt.

Two assassination attempts were made on his life but he died in Cairo from natural causes on October 9, 1917.  The British Protectorate and wartime conditions kept him from using his good managerial abilities (1).

In the early twentieth century Europe was divided into two alliances: “The triple Entente” which included France, England and Tsarist Russia, and “l’ alliance triplice” which included the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires, and Italy. - 

On June 28, 1914, a Bosnian Serb assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Hapsburg, the Crown Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Sarajevo.  The Austro-Hungarian Government accused the Serbian Intelligence of being behind that crime and of inciting the Slav Subjects of the Empire to rebel. 

A harsh ultimatum was addressed to Serbia and, even though the ultimatum was accepted, the Empire declared war against Serbia on July 28 1914. - 

On July 30, 1914, Tsarist Russia, the protector of Serbia, announced a total mobilization of its armed forces and vowed to help Serbia. - 

The German Empire sent an ultimatum to Russia, which was refused, and Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914

On that same date, France ordered a complete mobilization of its armed forces.

On August 3, 1914, Germany and Austria declared war against France.

On August 4, 1914, England declared war against the Central Empires for violating the Neutrality of Belgium, which was guaranteed by England

On November 1, 1914, Russia declared war against the Ottoman Empire for allowing two German battleships, which were hiding in Ottoman ports, to bombard Russian positions in the Crimean Peninsula.- 

On November 5, 1914, England and France declared war against the Ottoman Empire. 

Three Parties dominated the Egyptian political scene prior to the First World War: - 

The Nationalist Party (Al Hizb Al Watany), which was founded by Mustafa Kamel Pasha on October 22, was truly a Nationalist Party; through the eloquence of its founder and leader it urged the Egyptian to get rid of the British occupier.  Unfortunately for the party, Mustafa Kamel died on February 10, 1908, and his successors, either Mohammad Farid Bey, who died in exile or Abdel Aziz Gawish, the editor of the Party ‘s newspaper. “Al Liwaa”, did not explain to the people how to achieve its objective. 

About the same time, more or less, the Nation Party (Hizb Al Ommah) was founded.  It was the Party of the rich and educated.  Its founding fathers were Mahmoud Soliman Pasha, Hasan Abdel Razeq Pasha and Ahmad Lutfi El Sayed Pasha.  That party also aimed for  Egypt's  independence but on the long run. What were urgent were not independence but the education and modernity of the country. 

The Party  had a newspaper, “Al Guaridah” which was beautifully edited by Lutfi  Al Sayed, but its membership was very limited.  This Party was the forefather of the Liberal Constitutional Party ( Hizb Al Ahrar Al  Doustouryeene). 

 Khedive Abbas, who did not like the two parties, mentioned above,  decided to encourage the founding of a third party called the Constitutional Reform Party (Hizb Al Islah Al Doustouri).  He chose Sheikh Ali Youssef to lead the Party, and to edit its newspaper “Al Liwaa”.  The party failed mostly because of Sheikh Youssef ‘s animosity towards the Nationalist Party. 

(To be continued) 

Kamal K. Katba

"The Struggle of Muhammad Fariyd in Exile" 

(1) source:  Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt, by Prof. Dr. Arthur  Goldschmidt Jr. 



© Kamal Katba 2005


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