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EGYPT

Egypt Through the Ages

The Puppet Monarchy

   

 

Allied promises that former Ottoman territories would be allowed self-determination raised hopes in Egypt of independence once the war was over. A new nationalist movement, the Wafd (“delegation”), was formed in 1918 to plan for the country's future. Hopes were dashed when Britain refused to consider Egyptian needs, and Saad Zaghlul, the leader of the Wafd, was exiled. The country erupted in violent revolt, and Britain was forced treconsider its decision. Zaghlul was released, but his efforts to get a hearing at the Paris Peace Conference were thwarted by the British. Violence continued until 1922, when Britain unilaterally declared Egypt an independent monarchy under Hussein's successor, who became king as Fuad I. The British, however, reserved the right to intervene in Egyptian affairs if their interests were threatened, thereby robbing Egypt of any real independence and allowing British control to continue unabated.

The new constitution of 1924 set up a bicameral legislature but, under pressure from the British and Fuad, gave the latter the right to nominate the premier and to suspend Parliament. The result was a tripartite struggle for mastery over Egypt involving the king, the British ambassador, and the Wafd, which was the only grass-roots party. One government after another fell after trying unsuccessfully to extract concessions from the British. In 1936, under pressures caused by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, an Anglo-Egyptian treaty was finally signed, but it continued the physical occupation of Egypt by the British army and the involvement of the British army in internal affairs.

 


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