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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

132
THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM
CHAP.
prisoners instead of entering it as conquerors. Many Egyptians may have continued to believe in the ultimate triumph of Turkey's Germanic allies, and abundant assurances came from Constantinople that Egypt would then be restored to Turkey, who would in turn grant her complete independence. But such faith as they may originally have placed in the Turkish armies being able to drive us out of Egypt died steadily away as they saw their country converted into a huge British military base and an endless stream of British units pouring in from India and Australia and New Zealand. Gradually, too, Sultan Hussein's great personal qualities enabled him to overcome the unpopularity he had at first incurred by the acceptance of a title which in itself jarred upon Mahomedan ears accustomed to associate it with the Ottoman Sultans, who were also Khalifs, from the hands of an alien and non-Mahomedan Power. Sultan Hussein was universally respected, and amongst the rural population he had acquired a great reputation as an excellent landlord and an expert farmer. He was also a grand seigneur and was known for his liberality—two very important assets in an Oriental country. I had known him for many years and saw a good deal of him when I passed through Cairo on my way back from India in the spring of 1915, and whilst nothing struck me more than the absolute faith he had in the triumph sooner or later of the Allied cause, he did not underrate the difficulties of his situation nor the distrust which the silence of the British Government was already causing as to the ultimate consequences of the Protectorate. He himself, though he did not actually say so, seemed to have accepted it as an essential war measure, and his purpose was to proceed in person to London as soon as the war was over and effect a settlement with the British Government which would satisfy the legitimate aspirations of his people. It must be acknowledged, too, that we did not take much trouble to help him, and, though it was clearly in our interest to enhance as far as possible in the eyes ofdb.e  Canal—and Turks were marched into Cairo as