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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

Ill
LIMITATIONS  OF BRITISH CONTROL
never acknowledged and have not yet acknowledged either to the Egyptians or to the Powers, or perhaps even to ourselves, what that responsibility involves. We have been virtually the rulers of Egypt since 1882, but we have always refrained from claiming any executive authority. We have thus been driven to all sorts of convenient fictions in order to disguise the fact. Until 1915, when he was given the title of High Commissioner, the British representative in Cairo continued to rank with those of other Powers, over whom, as Agent and Consul-General, he enjoyed no official precedence other than that which seniority of appointment might happen to confer upon him. Yet he could make and unmake Egyptian Ministers, who had to follow his advice in all matters of first-rate importance or resign their offices. One after another every Egyptian Minister was given a British Adviser whose advice was also frequently, in all but name, an order, and so on throughout nearly the whole range of Egyptian government and administration, until there grew up in later years a regular Anglo-Egyptian bureaucracy with powers and responsibilities never defined but none the less real for being based on the fiction that executive authority was reserved to the Egyptians.
The Khedive Tewfik, who owed the safety of his throne and dynasty to the Occupation, accepted these fictions, and his successor, Abbas Hilmi, never openly repudiated them, though he secretly struggled against them. Egyptian Ministers could always be found to accept them, and for a long time the great majority of the Egyptian people accepted them, at first with a measure of real gratitude for the benefits they had received from the Occupation, and later on, as the memory of the old evil days before the Occupation receded, with a growing impatience of the tutelage they believed themselves to have outgrown.
To the many causes which contributed to this change in the attitude of the Egyptians towards the Britishince ceased to talk about withdrawal, but never until after the Anglo-French Agreement had they openly acknowledged that no definite term could be set to the Occupation. Not even then were its implications frankly faced. The Occupation had assumed the shape of a veiled Protectorate, but no attempt was ever made—nor has been hitherto made since the veiled Protectorate was converted into an open Protectorate in 1915—to define the actual relationship thereby established between Egypt and Great Britain. From the moment we occupied Egypt we had I                                          to assume responsibility for its governance. But we                .  ,                           me, who was for many years one of Lord Cromer's most