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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

VII
EGYPT DURING THE WAR
123
ceeded explicitly to sever the formal ties which still united •E'gyP^ ^° the Ottoman Empire. The Proclamation of Martial Law and the establishment of a very rigid censorship at th© beginning of November were the first symptoms of the gravity of the situation that was to be created by a rupture with Constantinople. The British Protectorate was not proclaimed till December 18th, and on the following day another Proclamation announced that His Majesty's Government had deposed the Khedive Abbas II and conferred the rulership of Egypt on Hussein, a son of the Khedive Ismail, with the title of Sultan. After very nearly four centuries, Egypt ceased to form part even nominally of the Ottoman Dominions, and the " veiled " Protectorate exercised by Great Britain for thirty-eight years was transformed by the end of 1914 into an open Protectorate.
What were the precise advantages of making at that moment a change which did not materially alter the situation in Egypt itself, where our dominant position, plus martial law, already gave us a free hand, has not yet been authoritatively explained. The chief argument in support of it is that the Regent and his colleagues found themselves placed in a very difficult position from the point of view of constitutional law. They had been willing to carry on whilst the Ottoman Empire remained neutral, and to assume the sanction of the Khedive for measures still formally taken in his name and under the authority delegated by him to the Regent before he left for Constantinople, so long as Turkey, where he had taken up his quarters, was not actually an enemy country. Now, however, that polite fiction could no longer be maintained, or at any rate the Egyptian Ministers were reluctant to assume the responsibility of maintaining it. This may well have seemed a sufficient argument to the British, authorities on the spot, who naturally disliked the prospect of a Ministerial crisis, involving the resignation of the Regent, in addition to all the difficult military problems raised by Turkey's entry into the war. on his august master's credit was the visit which heocialf light railways and the introduc