19, 1919, date of resignation of the Rushdy Cabinet, until May
21, 1919, Egypt stayed without a Prime Minister in office.
Lord Allenby, the British High Commissioner
seized this opportunity to impose direct rule. He followed the policy
of the “stick” and run the country with an iron glove hoping to
subdue the Revolution. Without wasting time, he appointed as many
foreigners in the important positions of the different Ministries, as could
be absorbed, and ordered the Under Secretaries of each Department to assume
the Ministers role and to report directly to him. On May 1919,
the Peace Treaty was signed confirming, amongst many other clauses, the
British Protectorate over Egypt for an indeterminate period, and,
in a speech at the British Parliament, the Foreign Secretary stated that
His Majesty ‘s British Government would not desist from its obligation
and duties to govern Egypt. He also indicated that a Royal
Commission would be sent to Egypt to study the situation on the
spot and to present its recommendations about the best way to run Egypt
in the future.
that month of direct harsh rule, many of the striking employees returned
to their jobs, the lawyers resumed their careers, the workers returned
to their factories and places of work and the Government repaired the sabotaged
railways system, which became functional again.
Revolution of 1919 was neither a social upheaval nor a religious
one; it was strictly a political rebellion carried on against an occupying
Foreign Power by the different social and religious segments of the Country.
the declaration of the British Foreign Secretary, Sultan Ahmad Fouad
decided, with Allenby ‘s approval, to call on Mohammad Saeed
Pasha to form a new Cabinet as from May 21, 1919 (1).
The objective of the new Cabinet was to calm the situation in the Country
by whatever means!! The appointment of the Saeed Pasha Cabinet
was met by a renewal of large demonstrations of protest in Cairo,
and all the large cities, from Aswan to the Mediterranean. The
newly formed Government, in its effort to calm down the situation, decided
to adopt “the policy of the carrot”. All in all it held twenty
full Cabinet meeting, eighteen of them chaired by Sultan Fouad and
two by Saeed Pasha. On one side, the Country was in turmoil
and its people would not settle for less than complete independence, on
the other side there was a powerful occupying power represented by a
Marshall whose only language he knew well was the language of the force.
To appease both sides, the Saeed Cabinet had to walk on a very fine
the Egyptian People the Cabinet issued, on the occasion of the approach
of the Holy Month of Ramadan, a communiqué announcing that
the Minister Of Interior (who happened to be the Prime Minister)
reached an agreement with the (British) Military Authority relaxing the
restriction of movements, particularly at nights, during the Holy Month,
which would allow the population to proceed with the evening festivities,
according to tradition. At the request of the Cabinet, the Military
Authorities agreed to free some of the detained nationalists and to stop
temporarily the activity of the Military Courts. The Cabinet also announced
an immediate freeze of all food products prices and ordered the formation
of committees in all the Governorates to implement strictly that decision.
It also decreed an increase of eight hundred thousands pounds in the budget
which would allow the Government to raise its employees salaries, an obvious
bribe under the pretence of cost of living increase!! The announcement
of that increase calmed the situation somehow and encouraged the employees
to resume their duties.
the second of June 1919, a Sultanate Decree was issued for the institution
of a new Ministry, The Ministry Of Communications, and appointed
Ziwar Pasha as its Minister. Until then Ziwar Pasha was
Of Education. The Government also authorized the
to review the cases of those who were financially hurt during the disturbances
which started on March 10, 1919, and a Committee headed by the President
of the Court Of Appeal was formed to receive the requests of indemnities;
a million pounds was added to the National Budget for that purpose.
Cabinet decided unanimously to investigate the accusations against certain
officials of the Ministry Of Interior for excesses that could have
been perpetrated during the 1919 events. It also decided to
fire Mustafa Al Nahas Bey, a Tanta Court Judge, from his
Bench position for abandoning his post, without prior permission, to join
an Egyptian Delegation that went to London, even though Nahas
Bey applied for a medical leave from London. It also fired
Maher Bey, the then Vice-President of the Asyut Primary Court,
for refusing to appear in front of a Medical Commission, which was to examine
his state of health after he applied for a health leave. Last but
not least, the Cabinet announced with jubilance that all censorship on
printed matters would be removed except for seventeen clauses, which were
prohibited from publication (sic)!!!
appease the British side, the Cabinet embarked on a wave of appointing
Foreign Employees, particularly British, in key Government positions.
The Cabinet declared
June third, date of King George The Fifth birthday, a National
Day!!! British and Egyptian Flags were deployed over all the Official
Buildings and a twenty one gun salutes were ordered on that occasion in
Cairo, Alexandria and Port-Said, as if the country was a British
Military authorities, with the blessing of the Government, imposed a fine
of two hundred and twenty thousands pounds, to restore the Railways
Stations and other official buildings that were damaged by the “disturbances”.
It is interesting to note that those fines find their way, somehow, to
the British Treasury instead of the Egyptian one!!!
the news of the Versailles Treaty reached Egypt, and in spite
of its harsh treatment of that Country, a one hundred guns salute were
ordered to take place in Egypt ‘s largest cities and the Prime
Minister, along with Members of his Cabinet, were seen visiting the
Residence of the British High Commissioner to present their respect and
congratulation!!! Not to be outdone, Sultan Ahmad Fouad sent
a congratulation cable to King George The Fifth. On
the other side of the coin, the Egyptian masses received the news of the
Treaty with great sorrow and pain for it confirmed the Protectorate Status
and most of them vowed to continue their protests until the last British
soldier would evacuate their homeland.
the bitterness created by the Peace Treaty amongst the population, the
British Commanding Officer in Egypt announced the liberation of
some politically detained patriots and the complete liberation of all prisoners
whose sentences did not exceed three months.
2, 1919, a student in an Alexandria Religious Institution,
Mohammad, perpetrated an attempt on Saeed Pasha ‘s life.
He threw a bomb on the Prime Minister ‘s motorcade, not far from
Station; it exploded without killing the Prime Minister who was severely
shocked. Mohammad was caught, put on trial and condemned to
ten years in jail. On November 14, 1919, the British Residency
announced the arrival to Egypt of a British Royal Commission presided
by Sir Alfred Viscount Milner (the Milner Commission)
was a Commission of inquiry that had for objective to continue the rule
of Egypt under the British Protectorate, imposed in 1914,
in a milder way that could satisfy Egyptian pride and nationalism (3).
The Country, which had been sedated by the goodies of the Saeed Cabinet,
was enraged by the Commission visit and rose in protest as one man. Saeed
Pasha was not favorable to the Commission visit, at that time, and
pleaded with the
Sultan and with Lord Allenby about its postponement
without success. He had no choice but to present his resignation
to the Sultan
who accepted it on November 20, 1919.
Thus ended the second and last Cabinet of Mohammad Saeed Pasha.
(To be continued)
Kamal K. Katba