138 THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM CHAP.
suited to Egyptian conditions. The Omdeh, or village Maire, is a Government official. Sometimes he may be a large landowner ; or more often he is just an ordinary peasant. In any case he must own ten acres of land, a qualification often acquired by very devious means. There are 3,600 of them in Egypt, and a considerable portion of them are petty tyrants who terrorise their neighbours whilst maintaining themselves in office by pandering in every way to their superiors. It can be imagined what a chance the recruiting of the Labour Corps offered to their cupidity and vindictiveness, and how greedily they availed themselves of it. If the Mamour of the district or the Mudir of the province was not a ' man to be squared by the usual methods, he was not
likely, at any rate, to lay himself open to the suspicion of lukewarmness with the British authorities by obstructing any process of recruitment that yielded good results. And all this could be done, and was done, under shelter of " orders from the English Government."
The Egyptian Labour Corps rendered most valuable services. It was well organised and, having regard to its constitution and the purpose for which it was created, 11 ! well-officered, at least in the field. It grew continually
1 in size. The information semi-officially published by
the British military authorities with regard to the Egyptian Labour and Transport Corps has been meagre. The total strength of the Corps is put down at a much lower figure than the estimate current in Egypt. "The numbers involved," according to a " Record of the Syrian Expedition " printed under authority, " eventually reached a total of 135,000 men engaged on six months' contracts, giving an annual turnover of some 270,000 i men, apart from replacement of casualties." But it is not
clear whether these figures are meant to include the labour " pools " mentioned as having been established " at the base ports of Alexandria, Port Said, Kantara, and Suez." In 1916, 10,463 men of the Egyptian Labour Corps,n depots and cotton markets to assis