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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

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xvi             GOVERNMENT BY MARTIAL LAW              287
Extremists took the matter up as soon as they saw the opportunity it offered for shaking still further the confidence which «fche fellaheen had formerly placed in British control, for whatever the fellah's lack of political understanding, anything that may affect or menace the supply of water for the irrigation of his land touches him on the raw. The merits or demerits of the Nile projects are                        \
bound up with technical issues which no layman can be                        ji
competent to discuss, but the very grave charges brought                        |
again§t the British^ Adviser to the Ministry of Public                        |
Works by so distinguished an expert as  Sir William                        :!
Willcocks, and reinforced by the testimony of Colonel                        f
Kennedy, an able engineer formerly in the service of the                        f
Sudan Government, provided the Nationalists with all                        ;
the materials for a sensational campaign.    They con-                        |
ducted it with their usual violence,  and one immediate                       Ij
result was that when the Residency obtained permission                       |
from London to try to repair at least one blunder by                       I
inviting an  Egyptian to  join the new  Committee  of                       jj
Inquiry, none could be found to accept the invitation.                        ij<
Even the vacancy at the Ministry of Public Works could only be filled by prevailing upon Mohamed Shafik Pasha to take over that Department in addition to his own Department of Agriculture, which, at a time of severe food shortage, made an already excessive call upon his undoubted capacity for administration. Ismail Sirri, it is true, gave his parting blessing to the Nile projects, but though he is one of the few Egyptians qualified to speak with authority as a highly trained and experienced engineer, his statement fell flat, because as a Minister he shared the discredit into which a Government is bound to fall that systematically abdicates one of its most important functions, namely, the guiding of public opinion. An official assurance, rather haltingly worded, that all construction works connected with the Nile projects which involved the expenditure of Egyptian money would be suspended until the new Committee of Inquiry had reported was received with the same scepticism.lative Assembly, where it would have been their business to meet hostile criticism and define their own position. But it is not by masterly inactivity that Saad Pasha Zaghlul and his friends have acquired their hold upon the country. The Party of Independence haso add,  wouldt is El Azhar that provides throughout Egypt