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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

64
THE EGYPTIAN  PROBLEM
CH. Ill
before the Occupation, and so long as a country, unless it is prepared to differentiate against itself, is debarred in a great measure by foreign treaties from making new laws which its own interests clearly demand, and even from enforcing upon foreign residents laws* that are already in existence, and of which nobody denies in principle the reasonableness and propriety, it is preposterous to talk of any independence to which mere formal recognition would lend reality.
That is the price which, we may admit, Egypt has had to pay for the fictions that have continued to underlie the reality of our controlling influence, but the price had to be paid in accordance with previous obligations into which Egypt had entered before the Occupation. Our critics, and most of all our Egyptian critics, should remember this when they seek to depreciate the great work done by England in Egypt, and more especially during the first period of the Occupation.had to reckon with the suzerain rights of the Ottoman Sultan, which, however circumscribed, afforded him frequent opportunities of mischievous interference; with the international restraints placed upon her power to raise and spend revenue pending the liquidation of her foreign debt; and with the whole system of servitudes imposed upon her by the Capitulations. All these things must be borne in mind in measuring the work he was able to perform. As we shall see, he successfully parried the worst attempts of the Sultan to revive the political ascendancy of Turkey, and he released the Egyptian Treasury from the grip of the foreign bondholders ; but the burden of the Capitulations was one which he was not in a position to lighten, as they cannot be touched without the consent of all the Powers concerned, and it was only after the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904 that he was able even to suggest to the British Government the possibility of framing a scheme for their revision which under British auspices might overcome foreign opposition to any change. The Capitulations remained and still remain what they were his successors  teem with instances that illustrate   the   resourcefulness   of   the   law-breakers   in exploiting  the  benefits   of   the   Capitulations  and theifc