Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

208                    THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM                CHAP
to do with administration. So between Downing Street and the Residency—a term I use to cover the direct representative of the British Government in Egypt, whether styled as before the war Agent and Consul-General or, as since the Protectorate, Resident or High Commissioner—the liaison has always been very slender. It may therefore well be doubted whether the British Government had ever realised the many changes both in spirit and in form which the system of British control had undergone since it ceased to be the " one man show " that it was when Lord Cromer ran it, and could alone run it so admirably, because he himself had made it.
When one begins to inquire at all closely into that system, the question that soon arises is whether one can properly talk of any system at all when the powers and responsibilities of British and Egyptians engaged in carrying on the government and administration of Egypt have never been defined, and the limits of British control have always remained uncertain, and seem to have fluctuated according to the policy and personality of the hour. The only principle ever laid down publicly is to be found in despatch from Lord Granville which dates back to the early days of the Occupation (January, 1884).
" It is essential that in important questions affecting the administration and safety of Egypt, the advice of Her Majesty's Government should be followed as long as the provisional occupation continues. Ministers and governors must carry out this advice or forfeit their offices."
That principle underlay the veiled protectorate which we exercised over Egypt for more than thirty years before the Great War, and it presumably underlies the formal protectorate which we proclaimed in the first year of the war. But to what extent and by what means has it been enforced ?
It was never actually enforced against the head of the Egyptian State until the ex-Khedive Abbas sided with our enemies on the outbreak of war with Turkey, thoughcertain, but usually short, duration in a career that has nothingion.