Pasha presented the resignation of his Cabinet to Sultan Husein
Kamel, the newly appointed Sultan (by the British), he
was requested to form a Cabinet, which was to last until the death of the
Sultan on October 9, 1917.
Protectorate which was imposed by England upon Egypt and
which was to last until 1922 was one of the most shameful pages
of the history of Modern Egypt. The Sultan was nothing
but a puppet that did not even had a say in the choice of his Prime Minister.
Britain, as the protector power, canceled the position of
Foreign Affairs position claiming that it was its duty to run the foreign
policy of the country. As a result of that decision, all the foreign
representatives representing the interests of their respective Countries
in Egypt were ordered to stop all diplomatic contacts with the Egyptian
Government and to deal directly with the office of the British High Commissioner
in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon who replaced
Lord Kitchener (Lord
Kitchener was called back to London to assume his new position
as Minister Of War). It is indeed quite surprising that neither
Rushdi Pasha nor any member of his Cabinet or high Egyptian Officials
thought of resigning in protest of that shameful turn of events.
But, to give them all the benefit of the doubt, they might have been encouraged
to think that the Protectorate imposed upon Egypt was only a temporary
situation that would end once Great Britain and its allies would
emerge victorious from that World Conflict.
in Simla, India, to a military family, McMahon graduated
from The Royal Military College at Sandhurst, where he was the top
graduate of the class of 1882 (the same year of the British invasion
of Egypt). He served on the Punjab Frontier Force
then in the Indian Political Department, from 1890 to 1914,
rising to the post of Foreign Secretary in 1911. He
was responsible for demarcating the boundaries between Baluchistan
and Persia and between India and China. At the
start of the World War I, when Kitchener took charge of the British
War Office and Britain proclaimed a Protectorate over Egypt
and the Sudan, McMahon was named the first High Commissioner.
His main objective was to enforce order in a troubled time, as two attempts
were made to kill Husein Kamel, the newly appointed Sultan of
Egypt, and the reservists rioted and Egypt was overcrowded with
troops from all parts of the British Empire.
He entered history as the author of the famous McMahon / Cherif Husein
Correspondence, his exchange of letters (five of them) with Cherif Husein
of Mecca in which he is thought to have guaranteed that the Cherif‘s
Family, the Hashimites, would rule Palestine, Syria and Iraq
once they had overthrown the Ottoman Rule there in World War I.
later denied that Palestine had been included. He was recalled
suddenly to England, at the end of 1916.
little about Egypt, its people, its needs and aspiration.
Cherif Husein of Mecca was the father of Abdullah the
first Emir of Transjordan, later to become King of Jordan
and Faysal the first king of Syria, to be dethroned by the
French, the first King of Iraq. (1)
British direct rule, the short reign of Sultan Husein Kamel and
the second Cabinet of Rushdy Pasha was a period of unrest.
To pacify the country, the Sultan and his Prime Minister decided to give
a Cabinet Post to Saad Zaghloul Pasha who was a very popular
figure amongst the Egyptians in general and the Nationalists in particular.
The request was submitted to the British Cabinet, which was adamant in
its refusal. To enhance his popularity, the Sultan became very generous
in granting Pashaliks right and left. Honorific titles were given
to the Cabinet Members, the Prime Minister had the title of “SAHEB
AL DAWLAH” preceding his name and each Minister received the title
of “SAHEB AL MA’ALI”. All these gestures did not increase
the popularity of the Sultan and the Cabinet.
Sultan was the target of two assassination attempts; the first was
in Cairo, on Thursday April 8, 1915, when a young merchant
from the town of Mansourah, called Mohammad Khalil, shot and missed
the Sultan. He was condemned to death and executed.
The second attempt was in Alexandria, on Friday July 9, 1915,
when an unexploded bomb was thrown at the Sultan cortege, on its
way to the Mosque for the Friday Prayers. The investigation
of this second incident dragged for a long time and ended with the arrest
and trial of Mohammad Naguib El-Helbawy and Mohammad Shams-El-Dine.
Both were condemned to death but the Sultan commuted their sentence
to life in jail with hard work. As a result of these two attempts,
the Cabinet increased the Sultan‘s security budgets by three
thousands and six hundreds pounds.
September 4, 1915, Ibrahim Fathi Pasha, the Minister
of Religious Affairs (WAZIR AL AWQAF” was stabbed and seriously
wounded while awaiting for a train at the Cairo Main Railway Station.
The perpetrator, Saleh Abdel-Latif was arrested, condemned to death
by a British Military Court and executed on October 3, 1915. Abdel-Latif
an employee of the Ministry of Finances.
world being at war, most of the activity of the second Rushdy Cabinet
aimed at facing that situation that was imposed upon Egypt.
All the requests of the Ministry of War, either to call the reserves
(RADEEF), to build new military camps or to modernize the Egyptian
Army by buying modern equipments, were granted. About twelve
thousands reservists were called back during that period.
Cabinet agreed to stop the export of eggs for the purpose of satisfying
the local consumption and that of the British Empire troops which consumed
about four hundreds thousands eggs daily!!! In the period
from November 1916 to April 1917, the Cabinet authorized the export
of two hundred millions eggs.
support the war effort, the Government gathered about one hundred and
seventy thousands physical fit men and sent them to work in the Sinai,
Palestine, Iraq and even France. They were considered
as non-combatant at the service of the combat troops. Many of them
never came back and the Egyptian government had the cheek to call those
unfortunate citizens “Volunteers”.
law was promulgated in 1916 limiting the gold coins to the one pound
and to the fifty piasters categories. The silver coins were
limited to the twenty, ten and five piasters categories while
the nickel was used in the ten, five, two and one “MALLEEM”
categories. The name of Sultan Husein Kamel was to be incrusted
on all those coins.
Administration of Supplies was constituted and annexed to the Ministry
of Interior. The duty of that Administration was to control the
prices, particularly those of food products, and to make sure that no shortages,
black markets and monopolies would occur.
Cabinet agreed to increase the budget of the Ministry of Public Works
thousands pounds to fight unemployment by hiring thousands of workers
to clean up the “ABBASYA” desert, with a daily salary of three piasters.
that same Cabinet meeting, it was decided to allocate the amount of one
hundred and fifty thousands pounds to cover the salaries of the Sultan‘s
Cabinet decided to buy a part of the cotton crop at the international price
set by the American and Lancashire markets, plus a little extra
for the higher quality of the Egyptian cotton.
is interesting to note that the Ministry of Education submitted
a report to the Cabinet claiming that the number of students who succeeded
in obtaining their secondary school certificate jumped from forty two graduates
in 1887 to five hundreds and fifty in 1914!
the beginning of October 1917, the health of Sultan Husein Kamel
suddenly deteriorated and he died on October 9. Thus ended
the second Rushdy Cabinet. (2)
(To be continued)
Kamal K. Katba