As mentioned in the previous chapter, the relationship between Sultan Husein Kamel and the British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Mc Mahon, was relatively smooth and their collaboration towards the war effort was well known; but, a year before his death, the Sultan criticized on several occasions the occupying power which caused a deterioration in their relationship.  To avoid the worse, the British Government recalled Sir Henry and appointed in his place General Sir Francis Reginald Wingate who was already in Egypt and the Sudan as Sirdar of the Egyptian Army and Governor General of the SudanWingate was chosen because of his military experience in that part of the world and because of his knowledge of the Arabic language and the tradition and culture of its people.  He was also more popular amongst the Egyptian Army that he led than his predecessor Lord KitchenerWingate assumed his new position before, the end of 1916, with great pomp and brilliant celebrations.

Born in Pert Glasgow (Scotland), he was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was commissioned in 1880 as a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery.  He was posted in India then sent to Aden to learn Arabic.  He joined the Egyptian Army in 1883, becoming an Aide De Camp (ADC) of its then Commander in Chief, Sir Evelyn WoodWingate took part in the relief expedition for General Gordon, but saw no other active service.  He was named Assistant Military Secretary, then Assistant Adjutant General, and in 1889 Director of Military Intelligence, with special responsibility for the Sudan about which he wrote “ Mahdism And The Egyptian Sudan”.  He accompanied Kitchener during the 1896-1898 campaign and succeeded him as Commander-In-Chief of the Egyptian Army, serving from 1899 to 1916; he was concurrently Governor General Of the Sudan.  He officially brought Darfur under Anglo-Egyptian control in 1916.  He officially succeeded Sir Henry Mc Mahon as Egypt‘s High Commissioner in January 1917.  This office proved challenging because of the large influx of British Empire Troops during World War 1, the shortage of foodstuffs and animals, and rising popular opposition to British rule in Egypt.  He had to maintain cooperation between civilian and military officials in Egypt, to carry out the policies of (and provide information to) the British Foreign Office.  Wingate was well aware of rising discontent among Egyptians in 1918 but his warnings to the British Government were ignored.  When the 1919 Revolution broke out, demonstrating that Wingate had better grasped Egypt's situation than the Foreign Office, the British Cabinet replaced him with General Allenby (1)

Feeling that death was near, Sultan Husein Kamel urged his only son, Prince Kamal-El-Dine Husein, to prepare himself to access power.  But, in a letter that he sent to his father, a day before the Sultan‘s death, the Prince declined the offer knowing probably that his appointment would certainly be refused by the British Authorities because of his dislike of the British policy towards Egypt.  At the death of the Sultan the British Government, as expected, offered the Throne to Prince Ahmad Fouad, the youngest son of Khedive Ismail and the brother of the late Sultan Husein Kamel, who promptly accepted the offer.  Following the tradition then prevailing, Hussein Rushdy Pasha offered the resignation of his Cabinet to the new Sultan Ahmad Fouad who, at the request of the British Government, asked Rushdy to form a new Cabinet, his third.

As the youngest son of Khedive Ismail, Ahmad Fouad spent most of his youth with his exiled father in Naples and was educated in Geneva and at the Military Academy in Turin.  When he returned to Egypt after his father‘s death, he led a dissolute life for a time.  His first marriage to Princess Chevekiar, failed and he was shot and seriously wounded by her deranged brother.  Fouad served for a time a Military Attaché in Vienna and as Aide-De-Camp to his nephew, Khedive Abbas.  As the nominal rector of the Egyptian University, 1908-1913, he lectured only on marksmanship and horsemanship, at which he excelled.  Considered in 1914 for Albania‘s Throne, Albanian nationalists and the European Powers both preferred a Christian ruler instead.  The British chose him for the Egyptian Sultanate in 1917, succeeding Sultan Husein Kamel, whose son was viewed as anti-British. Fouad secretly encouraged the agitation that led to the 1919 Revolution.  In April 1919 he married Nazli Sabri (2) so that he could beget an heir and thus forestall the return of ex-Khedive Abbas or his son, Prince Abdel Mon’em.  He outwardly tolerated but secretly loathed the 1923 Constitution, the Wafd Party, and Sa’ad Zaghloul and yearned to replace them with institutions and politicians more amenable to Palace control.  He ascended the Egyptian Throne in 1923 and, in 1930, aided by Isma’il Sidqi Pasha, he suspended the 1923 Constitution and promulgated one that greatly increased his powers to the detriment of the Parliament’s.  Five years later he accepted the restoration of the earlier Constitution. He died on April 28, 1936. From the above it is obvious that Sultan/King Ahmad Fouad was unfit to rule over a Constitutional Monarchy.

During his negotiation with Wingate, prior to his accession to the Sultanate throne, Fouad expressed his wish to make a few changes in the Rushdy Cabinet but the British High Commissioner, who was very satisfied with the Cabinet ‘s collaboration in the war effort, refused that request.  Thus, not only did the Cabinet continue its policy of conciliation and harmony with the occupying power but it also intensified it support for the British war effort. 1917 was a critical year in World War I, particularly in the Middle East.  The new Allied Commander was Sir Edmund Allenby believed that, unlike his predecessors, the best way to achieve victory was to be always on the offensive.  He planned to attack across the Sinai and, in collaboration with the Arab rebels of Cherif Husein of Mecca (led by Prince Faysal, the Cherif‘s son) who had just taken the strategically important town of Aqaba from the Ottoman Turks, invade Palestine

For that purpose more British Empire troops came into Egypt, which required more supplies including food and beasts of transportation.  Only Egypt could fulfill that need and the Third Rushdy Cabinet more than obliged.

The third Cabinet held, all in all, fifty-three meetings of which Sultan Fouad attended forty nine, much more than the Cabinet meetings attended by Sultan Husein Kamel.   It is not that Fouad was suffering from an excess of zeal, but it was his way to show his Prime Minister and the Ministers that he was in charge!!

The Government issued a Sultanate decree encouraging more volunteers to join the Empire Forces as civilians in the transport units (by camels, horses and donkeys), by excluding them from doing their military service.  Needless to say that very few took advantage of that decree which forced the Government to cancel it.

Another decree requested farmers and breeders to bring over to their Governorates and districts chiefs whatever they could spare of their donkeys, camels and horses that  were then bought by the Government at acceptable prices and delivered to the British Military Authorities.  The decree also prohibited the animals‘ owners from transporting their beasts from one District or Governorate to another, or from selling them to any buyer except the Government. 

This decree created a great shortage of animals in the country and increased the daily hard labor of the already overworked fellahs. 

Another decree promised a Government job for any laborer who joins the British Army for at least six consecutive months, which created a shortage of hands, during the Nile flood season to build protective levees.

All in all, the Egyptian Government spent on behalf of the occupying Power, from the beginning of the war until March 1917, the amount of three millions and a half Pounds, which were considered by both sides as a debt to be paid back to Egypt at the end of the war.  But, in a gesture of generosity and magnanimity, the Cabinet presided by Sultan Fouad, agreed to cancel that loan!!!

The Cabinet concurred with the Ministry Of Agriculture request to stop the cultivation of “HASHISH” which occupied about two thousands four hundreds feddans of prime agricultural land, and grow instead the wheat that was needed by the Foreign Troops.  It is interesting to note that it was the British Authorities which legalized and encouraged the cultivation of that drug and the spread of its use, in Egypt, as it flooded China with “OPIUM” grown in India and even invaded China to punish its Government for prohibiting the import of that addictive dangerous drug (The Opium War).

The Cabinet decided to export the Egyptian cotton only to the British market.  It also prohibited the export of silver, and, because of the silver high price on the international market, to stop the circulation of the silver coins and to print and circulate instead (for the first time in Egypt) paper money for five and ten piasters.

Because of the cholera epidemic scare, the Cabinet authorized the Ministry Of Public Health to vaccinate the public, strictly confining the vaccination to the Egyptian Nationals and not the many foreigners that lived in Egypt at that time!!!

The Cabinet granted the “Order Of The Grand Cordon Of The Nile, First Class” to Saad Zaghloul Pasha, the then Vice-President of the Legislative Assembly, Ismail Sidqy Pasha. The ex-Minister of Religious Affairs (AWQAF), James Heinz the British advisor to the Egyptian Ministry Of Interior and Sir Murdoch MacDonald the British advisor to the Ministry Of Public Works.  The same decoration, but Second Class, went to Ahmad Zulfiqar Pasha and Mohammad Tawfiq Nesim Bey, both of them Appeal Judges, and to Abdel Aziz Fahmy Bey, The President of the Lawyers Society. Yusef Aslan Qattawi, a wealthy Egyptian Hebrew and close friend to Sultan Fouad was created a Pasha, while Dr. Aly Ibrahim, the Palace Doctor was created First Class Bey and Makram Guirguis Ebeid, a member of the Qena Assembly, received the title of Bey Second Class.

(To be continued) 

Kamal K. Katba





*(2)  Nazli Sabri (June 25, 1894 - May 29, 1978), was the Queen consort of Egypt (May 26, 1919 - April 28, 1936) as the second wife of King Fouad. She was the daughter of H.E. Abdu'r-Rahim Pasha Sabri, sometime Minister of Agriculture and Governor of Cairo, by his wife, Tawfika KhanumSharif. Queen Nazli also was a maternal granddaughter of Major-General H.E. Muhammad Sharif Pasha, sometime Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. She was also a great-grand-daughter of Suleiman Pasha.
Queen Nazli had five children, the future Farouq I and four daughters, the Princesses Fawzia, Faiza, Faika, and Fathiya. After a prolonged rift with her son, King Farouq, she left Egypt and went to Rome where she converted to Catholicism in 1950 and took the name Mary Elizabeth. In consequence she was deprived of her rights and titles in Egypt by her son on August 1 of that year. She eventually settled in the United States. She died in Los Angeles, California, and is buried at the Garden of the Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California




© Kamal Katba 2006


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