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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

Ill
LIMITATIONS  OF BRITISH CONTROL
57
matters of internal administrative policy involving increased expenditure. Moreover, the term of grace accorded for a temporary reduction of interest on the Debt was to expire within two years. Failure to balance revenue and expenditure would have meant at its expiry a fresh avowal of bankruptcy and relapse into unmitigated internationalism. The next two years were a race against bankruptcy, won by a very short head, against French expectations and hopes. But even then the reduced opportunities of the Caisse to obstruct Anglo-Egyptian policy were sufficient for frequent pinpricks, though they became less effective with the revival of Egyptian prosperity, until the desire to inflict them passed away gradually with a new orientation of French policy in Europe and the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904 at last removed all excuses for friction.
But there were other restrictions of a more permanent character placed by international treaties on Egypt's freedom of action. All the Great Powers, including Great Britain, and a number of smaller ones, making altogether fifteen before the Great War, possessed and still possess extraordinary privileges conferred by treaty on their subjects resident in Egypt. These privileges, known as the Capitulations, are derived from charters of immunity granted in ancient times by the Ottoman Sultans to the subjects of Christian Powers established in or trading with their dominions, in which Egypt was included. The nature and extent of these privileges deserve to be examined somewhat closely, as the Capitulations have endured to the present day, and the question of their abolition or modification has become one of very great urgency. As the Christian Powers waxed stronger and the Ottoman Empire waned, the privileges grew into rights, and nowhere has the use and abuse of them gone to greater lengths than in Egypt. Originally intended to safeguard the collective interests of the foreign communities against the arbitrary power of Oriental despots, and the life and property of the
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i* % io, even inled, however, to produce        danger of foreign complications.