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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

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xvi             GOVERNMENT BY MARTIAL LAW              285
Thus, whilst Egypt as a whole had grown extraordinarily prosperous, and huge fortunes had been made and the fellaheen taken* in the aggregate had waxed fat, there was widespread ax\d acute misery amongst numerous classes, and with misery went the growth of discontent, especially when there were political agitators only too keen to fan the embers of discontent into flame.   Even if there was no deliberate  attempt  to  increase  the  food  shortage  by inducing native traders to hold up their supplies or only to offes them for sale #t preposterous prices, the Extremists went about the country whispering that the shortage was due to the enormous requirements of the British Army, and the expansion of the cotton area to the selfish demands of Lancashire.   Both from the political and from the economic point of view, not to speak of mere humanity, there was a dangerous situation which called for prompt and generous action.   But Ministers who can barely carry on, and officials, British and Egyptian, handicapped by the increasing uncertainty of the political situation as well as by an outworn system of hopelessly divided powers and responsibilities, do not readily appreciate the necessity for prompt and bold decisions and are not easily accessible to outside pressure.   Some effective measures were at last taken, and with the assistance of the British Government considerable imports were rushed into Egypt, with the promise of more to follow, and stores were opened for the sale of flour to the public under cost price.    More forethought and more energy might have brought much earlier relief, but in such matters they are hardly to be looked for in Egypt under existing conditions of government. The one bright spot was the capacity for self-help which some of the Egyptians themselves displayed.   An organisation started by a young nationalist lawyer of Damietta, Ameen Effendi Yusuf, indeed showed a better way to the authorities.    The co-operative association which he initiated in Ms own native town, one of the poorest in Egypt, where 24,000 out of a total population of 32,000 were in sore need of assistance, and which he subsequently know where to look for guidance, and                            ^