The resignation of the Adli Yakan Pasha Cabinet, on December 24, 1921, accelerated the political crisis that Egypt was going through.  The British High Commissioner jumped on the occasion to increase his power and to govern the country directly with an iron hand.  To attain that objective he issued a decree, published in the Official Journal, ordering all the Under-Secretaries at the different departments, most of them were British, to assume all the duties of the Cabinet Minister until such a time when a new Cabinet would be formed.  During that period, The High Commissioner recommended to Sultan Ahmad Fouad the appointment of Abdel Khaleq Tharwat Pasha to form a new Cabinet. Tharwat Pasha refused to abide by the British and the Sultan ’s request as long as Egypt was under British Protectorate and vowed not to accept the position of Prime Minister unless Egypt ‘s Independence would be recognized and declared. (1)

On February 28, 1922, The British High Commissioner officially declared that His Majesty British Government ended its Protectorate over Egypt and recognized it as a fully Sovereign and Independent Nation.  As such, the new Cabinet that would take over could recover its right to re-establish the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, which was abolished, in 1914, as a result of the Protectorate.  Only then did Tharwat Pasha accept to form the new Cabinet.

Judge, Cabinet Minister and twice Prime-Minister, Tharwat Pasha was of Turk-Egyptian extraction, he attended the Abdin Elementary School, the Higher Teachers College and the Government Law School, where he was one of the founders of Egypt ‘s first Law Review.  Tharwat Pasha worked for the State Domain (Daira Saniyya) Administration after his graduation then for the Ministry Of Justice.  He was Deputy Chairman of Qena ‘s National Court and then became Director of Administration for the National Courts as a whole.  In 1907 he served briefly as Chancellor of the National Court of Appeal, then became Governor of the Asyut Province (1907-1908), head of the “Niyaba” (1908-1914), Minister Of Justice (1914-1919), Minister Of Interior (1921-1922 and 1926-1927) and Foreign Affairs (1922 and 1926-1927), Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister from 1922 to 1923 and from 1927 to 1928, when he retired due to the onset of diabetes.  Elected to the Chamber Of Deputies in 1924, he was appointed to the Senate in 1925.  He served on the board of the Islamic Benevolent Society and the Egyptian University until his death on September 22, 1928.  His colleagues, Foreign and Egyptian, respected him for his legal expertise.  He strove for Egypt ‘s independence, but this did not stop him from working with the Palace and the British.  Some Wafdists accused him of corruption and resented his opposition to the Wafd Party.  He died suddenly in Paris (2). 

Fifteen days after the formation of the Tharwat Pasha Cabinet, Sultan Fouad declared officially, on March 15, 1922, that Egypt was now an independent Kingdom and he appointed himself as its King under the name of Fouad The First.  The next day, March 16, the new Cabinet approved the King declaration and decreed that, as from that date, March 15 would be Independence Day and ordered a one hundred and one gun salute in honor of the new King.  That sudden change from Sultanate to Kingdom could be explained by the formation of the new Kingdom of Iraq and the appointment by the British Government of Prince Faysal, the third son of the Cherif Hussein of Mecca as its new King as well as the appointment of Prince Abdullah, the second son of Cherif Hussein as Emir of the Transjordan Emirate. King Fouad was right in not expecting a British objection to his new title after it had officially recognized Egypt ‘s independence just fifteen days earlier.

The mass of the Egyptian population did not share the enthusiasm of the Cabinet.  It did not see any change in the status quo; the British Army was still occupying the Country in large number, the Sudan was unofficially separated from Egypt and the martial law, previously imposed by the occupiers, was still implemented!!

The new Cabinet notified the Foreign Nations that, as from now, Egypt was a Sovereign Independent Nation and that  Tharwat Pasha was its new Foreign Minister beside his tenure of the Premiership.  (3).  The Cabinet also decided to cancel the yearly celebration of the anniversary of the British Monarch ‘s accession to the throne.  Furthermore, the Cabinet cancelled the position of the British Adviser to the Ministry Of Interior and it prohibited the British Financial adviser to attend the Cabinet meetings; best of all, the Cabinet replaced the Foreign Under-Secretaries with Egyptian ones.  As King of Egypt, King Fouad attended most of the Cabinet meetings and, at the first meeting after the institution of the Monarchy it was decreed that all minutes of meetings would be headed by The Kingdom of Egypt.  It was also decided to form a Committee to study the establishment of a new Constitution and a new elections law.  A budget of fifty thousand pounds was voted for the Ministry Of Public Works to hasten the construction of a new Parliament building.

At a special Cabinet meeting, the succession to the Throne was discussed and a new law was decreed according to which the eldest son of the King would eventually access the throne.  Article two of that same law declared that, after King Fouad, his beloved son, Farouq, would access the throne.

The King issued a Royal Decree instituting him as head of the Royal Family, which included all the descendants of Mohammad-Ali, organizing the family and the title of each of its members, dividing those members between Princes (Emirs) and Nobles (Nabils).The same decree authorized the formation of a Court Committee, headed by the King, which would have the sole jurisdiction over the personal status of the members of the Royal Family, such as marriage, divorce and inheritance, even if one of the couple were an outsider married to a member of the Family.  An annex to that Royal Decree listed the names of all the members of the Family, males and females.

In another meeting, the Cabinet approved the 1922/1923 budget.  It was a balanced budget of twenty-three millions and six hundred and thirty thousand pounds.  The Cabinet accepted a donation of six thousand and six hundred British pounds, from the British Government, as participation for the erection of a memorial for the Egyptian labor and members of the Egyptian Camel Force who died in the First World War.  The King having criticized the laziness of the Government employees, their procrastination tendency and the fact that they did not work in the afternoons, the Cabinet agreed to reduce the cost of living bonus to twenty percent of the employee’s respective salaries.  In a sudden impulse of generosity, the Cabinet decided to grant the widow of the late Ali Moubarak Pasha, the ex-Minister of Public Instruction, the monthly pension of twenty Egyptian pounds in recognition of her husband ‘s services to the Country!!

The Tharwat Pasha Cabinet held power at a time of great political difficulties.  On December 7th, 1921, Saad Zaghloul Pasha urged the Egyptian population to resume its struggle against the British occupiers and called for a large meeting to discuss the situation then prevailing in the Country.  The British Authorities warned him against holding political meetings and giving political speeches and ordered him to leave Cairo.  In his usual defiance, Zaghloul Pasha refused to accept those orders resulting in his arrest and his exile, with his close assistants, to the Island of Seychelles, out of nowhere in the Indian Ocean.  The British reaction resulted with lots of unrest and a few British officials were killed as a result.  The Cabinet was de-stabilized by those incidents and things got worse when the British Army arrested members of the “Wafd”, tried them in a Military Court and condemned them to death.  It was later decided to reduce the sentence to seven years in penitentiary and a fine of five thousand pounds to be paid by each of the convicted “Wafdist”.

The situation got worse and the Cabinet and the Egyptian Government, reluctantly, had to crack down on the press and suppress some newspapers and magazines.  On November 29th, Tharwat Pasha could not take it any more and submitted his resignation to King Fouad who did not hesitate to accept it on the spot.

Before closing this chapter, it is interesting to note that King Fouad ruled Egypt from March 15th, 1922 until his death on April 28th, 1936.  During his reign there was seventeen various Cabinets with Tharwat Pasha ‘s being the first.

(to be continued)

Kamal Karim Katba






Arthur Goldschmidt Jr., is Professor Emeritus of Middle East History at Pennsylvania State University. He is (with Lawrence Davidson) the author of A Concise History of the Middle East, Eighth Edition, and is the author as well of Modern Egypt: Foundation of a Nation-State, Second Edition. He is the recipient of the Amoco Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and the 2000 Middle East Studies Association Mentoring Award. Goldschmidt has been known during his years at Penn State for having created a series of courses that stimulated undergraduate interest in Middle Eastern history and culture. Educated at Colby College and Harvard University, Goldschmidt has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the Fulbright Faculty Research fund, among others. He is author of numerous books and many articles and essays on Middle Eastern history. He was an elected faculty senator, chaired its committee on student affairs and served as secretary. He chaired the Middle East Studies committee for 25 years. He also was instrumental in helping to devise courses in non-western history and in developing the successor to those courses for the general education curriculum.

In addition, he is one of the most respected authorities on Egypt's Modern history. Prof. Goldschmidt is a frequent contributor on the Internet, including the prestigious and oldest forum: Egypt Net.

For meaningful and serious discussions about the History of Modern Egypt,  join Egypt Net group (The oldest & continuous Egyptian forum on the internet since 1985.) 




© Kamal Katba 2007


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