Spring offensive in France having failed, with great losses in both
men and materials, the Anglo-French Army, reinforced by large American
contingents, successfully counter attacked and liberated large segments
of North Eastern France and part of Belgium. The Central
Alliance, having reached the end of the road, asked for and obtained an
Armistice, which was signed on November 11, 1918, thus ending the
First World War. An armistice is neither an admission of defeat nor
surrender; it is simply a cessation of hostilities since both sides of
the conflict were exhausted by over four years of all out war. Preparations
for a Peace Conference to meet at Versailles started in early
1919 and, it took six months to come up with a Peace Treaty,
which was the prelude of many more conflicts, some of them still raging....
and July 1919, after the war to end all wars, men and women from
around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage, for
the first time in history, was an American President, Woodrow Wilson,
who with his fourteen points seemed to promise to so many peoples the fulfillment
of their dreams. Stern, intransigent, impatient when it came to security
concern and widely idealistic in his dream of a League of Nations
that would resolve peacefully all future conflicts, Wilson was one
of a larger than-life characters who participated, directly or indirectly
in that Conference. Others were Winston Churchill and John Maynard
Keynes who were brought to the Conference by David Lloyd George,
the gregarious and wily British Prime Minister, T. E. Lawrence (Of Arabia),
who joined the Arab Delegation (led by Prince Faysal, the third
son of Cherif Hussein of Mecca). Ho Chi Minh, then
a kitchen assistant at the Paris Ritz Hotel, submitted a petition for an
six months Paris was effectively the center of the World as the
Peacemakers carved up bankrupt Empires and created new Countries.
They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, dismissed
the Arabs and struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds
and of a homeland for the Jews". (Source: Paris 1919,
six months that changed the World, by Dr. Margaret Macmillan).
in all, the Treaty of Versailles proved to be a complete failure
and a prelude to a bloodier major World conflict and a multitude of smaller
ones some of them still plague our planet.
the signing of the Armistice ending the First World War and during
the preparations for a Peace Conference, a group of Egyptian intellectuals
led by Saad Zaghloul Pasha, the then elected Vice-Chairman of the
Legislative Assembly, and encouraged by President Wilson's fourteen
points and all those talks about the right of people for self-determination,
felt that the moment was right for the Egyptians to be represented at the
Conference for the purpose of obtaining the end of the British Protectorate
over the Country and its complete independence. With the encouragement
of Rushdy Pasha, Zaghloul formed a Committee composed of
himself along with Abdel-Aziz Fahmy Bey and Ali Sha'rawi Pasha
and asked for a meeting between the Committee and Sir Reginald Wingate,
the then British High Commissioner in Egypt.
meeting took place before the end of November 1918 and the delegation
asked for the authorization to proceed to London to submit Egypt's
grievances to the British Government. Wingate expressed his
surprise and refused the Delegation 's request on the basis that it had
no mandate to represent the Egyptian People. As a result of the meeting
's failure, Saad Pasha and his friends formed The Egyptian Delegation
(AL WAFD AL MASRY) composed of thirteen founding members.
Delegation was to launch a mandate campaign, on the National level, to
obtain as many signatures as possible authorizing it to negotiate with
the British Government, on behalf of Egypt, an accord ending the
Protectorate and recognizing the Country 's independence.
spite of the many obstructions carried by the occupying army, a majority
of Egyptians of all creeds and social levels signed the mandate.
Armed with that majority support, Saad Pasha renewed his request
for the Delegation to proceed to London.
same request was sent to President Wilson and to the different Heads
of States and their representatives in Egypt without any favorable
echo. By then Egypt was in turmoil and the 1919 Revolution
was beginning to shape. To avoid the worse, Rushdy Pasha asked
Ahmad Fouad to obtain from Sir Reginald the permission to send
him (the Prime Minister) and Adly Yakan Pasha, his
Of Public Instruction, to London, to negotiate the political
future of the Country.
Reginald supported that move and sent a cable to London urging
his Government 's approval. The answer came back quickly stating
that Lord Balfour, the Foreign Office Minister, was busy preparing
for the Versailles Conference and had no time to meet with any Egyptian
delegation. Rushdy Pasha considered the British refusal as
a slap in the face and submitted, on December 2, 1918, the resignation
of his Cabinet to the Sultan who refused to accept it.
resignation of the Cabinet was re-submitted on December 23 but,
meanwhile Sir Reginald had departed for London to personally
support the Rushdy/Yakan visit, and the Sultan asked his
Prime Minister to shelve the resignation until the return of the British
Reginald, who was accused in London of following a too soft
a policy towards Egypt, resigned (in fact he was deposed) and replaced
by Field Marshall Lord Edmund Allenby who was instructed to run
with an iron hand. This being the situation,
re-submitted his resignation on February 9, 1919, to the
accepted it on March 1 with the request of keeping the Cabinet in
place until a new Prime Minister could be found in those difficult times.
Thus ended the Fourth and last Cabinet of Hussein Rushdy Pasha.
Military leader and colonial administrator, he was educated at Haileybury
and Sandhurst. He choused the military career after twice
failing to pass the examination for the Indian Civil Service. Before
War 1, he saw service in South Africa, Ireland and
Because of his victories over the Ottoman and German Armies in Palestine
and Syria, he was offered a special High Commission with supreme
political and military control in Egypt and the Sudan following
the outbreak of the 1919 Revolution, becoming High Commissioner
when Wingate resigned.
restored order in Egypt, in part by allowing Saad Zaghloul and
his companions who had been interned in Malta, to go to the Peace
Conference in April 1919. He later issued a unilateral declaration
of Egypt 's independence on 28 February 1922 and encouraged
the drafting of the 1923 Constitution, which became the basis of
Parliamentary Government though often honored in the breach, until the
1952 Revolution. He was deeply angered by the assassination of
his close friend, Sir Lee Stack, the Commander-in-chief of
the Egyptian Army, in 1924.
Zaghloul and his Cabinet responsible for the murder, he submitted an
ultimatum demanding a large indemnity from the Egyptian Government and
imposing other penalties on the Country, causing the Premier to resign.
The terms of Allenby 's ultimatum were sterner than his Government
has intended. Estranged from the Foreign Office, he resigned his
post in 1925 and retired from Government Service. A man of
great courage and integrity, he could become irate when provoked.
Some of his private papers are now in St Anthony 's College, Oxford
(To be continued)
Kamal K. Katba
day after the
outbreak of war in Europe, on 5 August 1914,
the Egyptian Prime Minister signed a decree empowering the British to exercise
the rights of war throughout Egypt. With the entry of Turkey
into the war, martial law was declared and preparation made to defend the
Canal. There had been a proclamation that Egyptians would not be called
on for defense but very soon they were ordered to guard the Suez Canal
against their fellow Muslims the Turks whom many preferred to the British.
In December, the British government declared a Protectorate over
opening days of the month of March 1919 found Egypt seething
with excitement. Sir Milne Cheetham, who was acting as High Commissioner
at the time feared that in such a mood the Nationalist leader Sa`d
Zaghluwl would further incite his followers and thwart British
design on Egypt.
nationalists hated the war and hoped that Britain would lose it,
otherwise there seemed no hope for independence. Throughout the war years
the fallahiyn and those Egyptians who were on fixed salaries,
such as government employees, suffered from inflation. For the British
army; beasts of burden were also commandeered for the army, leaving the
with nothing to pull their ploughs or turn their waterwheels The peasants
suffered by having their crops taken as well. Worse still, the fallahiyn
were forced under corvée-like to go and dig ditches. They were drafted
into labor battalions (supposed to be voluntary) for service
in France and Palestine.
the Balfour Declaration - a unilateral decision that the
could establish a National Home in Palestine, a territory that belonged
to the Arabs who were not consulted.
next year saw the important statement made by the President of the United
States, Mr. Woodrow Wilson, on self determination, included
fourteen points for a postwar settlement; that raised the
hopes of Egyptian nationalists. Self determination became the keyword in
everybody's mouth, and a group of Egyptian politicians met to plan the
future of Egypt as an imminently independent country, or at least
one that would have a modicum of home-rule. That group of men included
Sha`rawiy and `Abd al-`Aziyz
Fahmiy constituted themselves into a delegation, in Arabic
a wafd, and in November 1918 met with Sir Reginald Wingate,
British High commissioner, to request that they be allowed to proceed
to the Paris Peace conference and present Egypt's case.
Sa`d Zaghluwl and the other leading Egyptians were at first
refused permission to go to the
Peace Conference in Paris
to plead the cause of Egyptian independence; the British government had
many problems to deal with and thought that Egypt could wait. It
did not see why there should be any cause for complaint for, it was argued,
had been saved by the British Army from invasion by their Turkish brethren!
had also accumulated a balance of over one hundred and fifty million
pounds in five years of war. To the Egyptians it was galling to see
representatives of Syria, Arabia, and of Cyprus being
allowed to send representatives to the Peace Conference without question,
and to see Syria granted what amounted to independence in November
the British Army continued to maintain martial law; they had to deal with
the withdrawal of thousands of troops stretching from Cairo into
Minor and supplies from Egypt continued to be needed. There
were logical arguments from the British point of view but Egyptians had
their own logic; they were not prepared to be patient. Sa`d Zaghluwl
his Wafd Party had a widespread organization throughout the country
and refused the British military order to stop insisting on the independence
British High Commissioner issued a stern warning that he would burn
the villages of those who participated in the rebellion, which he eventually
did. He therefore lost no time in commending that the Egyptian Leader and
his colleagues should be deported to Malta, and to this the British
Secretary of State agreed. Before the step was taken, a warning was
issued to the Egyptian leader Sa`d Zaghluwl in person
and nine other leading members of the Party of Independence by General
Watson, then commanding the forces in Egypt.
the 8th, therefore, Sa`d Pasha Zaghluwl, and with
him Hamd Pasha al-Basil, Isma`iyl Pasha Sidqiy,
and Muhammad Pasha Mahmuwd, were arrested. The following
morning they were taken to Port Sa`iyd and placed on board a British
destroyer Caledonia, to be deported to Malta.
arrest of these four men set the conflagration alight and the Revolution
is a chronology of the events, which started on the 8th of March, 1919.
students were the first to stir. When the news spread on the morning of
the 9th, they deserted their studies and dispersed through the streets,
carrying the torch of revolution everywhere with them. That very evening,
acts of sabotage were occurring, and the following morning angry crowds
were destroying property and buildings, and the military had to be called
upon to help the police.
the 11th, the situation was changing for the worse. A strike
of the lawyers was concerted, and some officials deserted their posts in
sympathy, while clashes between angry crowds and the troops and police
were frequent. Stern warnings were issued by the British authorities
that cutting off communications and sabotaging railways would be dealt
severely and perpetuators would be executed on the spot and their villages
the 12th the provinces were alight: there were outbreaks at Tantah,
where the military had to open fire in order to repel an attack upon the
railway station, at Zagaziyg,
Damanhuwr, and Mansuwrah.
The trouble then spread with rapidity all over the Delta and into
March 15th the Egyptian railroad workers, numbering 4,000
went on strike. They also destroyed the railway switches, cutting
off completely the railway service to Upper Egypt.
the 17th, Cairo was completely cut off from the rest of
Egypt: the railway lines had been destroyed, telegraph and telephone
wires cut. In Alexandria, continuous riots were taking place; in
almost every other important centre the military were in conflict with
the people and could do little more than hold precariously some point of
vantage, while elsewhere over the Delta anarchy reigned. In Upper
Egypt the position was equally serious, where the British detachments
of troops, mainly Punjabis, were beleaguered and cut off from their
the morning of the 18th, just after General Bulfin's
arrival at Cairo, there occurred the Dayruwt incident, in
which eight Englishmen were killed. These men, three officers
and five non-commissioned officers, were traveling by train from
At Miniyah their bodies were taken off the train and buried.
the British residents were surrounded; at Asiyuwt all
foreign subjects sought refuge in one building, which was with difficulty
defended by a small detachment of Punjabis.
15, 1919, Mr. Harmsworth, the deputy secretary of the British
Foreign Office issued the following tabulation regarding the casualties:
Egyptians killed, 1,600 wounded; 27 British soldiers killed, 70 wounded;
9 Punjabis killed, 40 wounded; and four British civilians killed. (TEC)
© Kamal Katba
Egyptian Chronicles is a co-op of Egyptian authors.
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