(EMPIRE in EGYPT and SUDAN, to 1929 – continued)

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EMPIRE in EGYPT and SUDAN, to 1929 (2 of 3)

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Riots and Independence to 1924

At the end of the war, trouble arose with hope for independence, aroused in part by point twelve of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points about "unmolested opportunity of an autonomous development" in former portions of the Ottoman Empire. A political party had developed devoted to Egyptian independence, the Wafd party. Its members wanted to send a delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. The British did not allow it. In March 1919, the British arrested three Waft party leaders and deported them to the island of Malta. Britain had disappointed a lot of Arab speaking people at the end of the war, and an explosion of rioting followed that surprised the British. In some Egyptian provinces, civilians attacked and killed British soldiers. Egyptians tore up railway tracks and cut telegraph wires. British troops managed to restore order, but passive resistance to British rule remained.

The British released Waft Party delegates from prison and allowed them to go to Paris, where they were shaken by Woodrow Wilson's go-along, get along, acceptance of a British protectorate over Egypt.

The British did some adjusting. A British commission did a study and decided on an "alliance" with an "independent" Egypt. Egypt was to have a constitutional monarchy and the British were to have the responsibility for protecting Egypt from foreign aggression, to "guide" its foreign relations, and to protect Egypt's minority populations and foreigners in Egypt such as businessmen and diplomats. And Britain was to remain in control of its "lifeline" to India: the Suez Canal.

Sultan Fuad, who had succeeded his elder brother Sultan Husayn Kamil, who had died in 1917, became known as King Faud. On 28 February 1922 Britain unilaterally declared Egypt a sovereign state, ending Egypt for the British Egypt as a protectorate. Egypt now had a constitution and a bicameral legislature, but King Faud's powers were extensive: he could dissolve the legislature, appoint and dismissed ministers and rule by decree. He had veto power over legislation, which could be overridden by two-thirds of the legislature. And he was commander-in-chief of Egypt's armed forces. It would be easier for Britain to control Egypt with a politically powerful king rather than a weak king and a powerful parliament.

Indeed, Egypt's parliament came under the control of people hostile to Britain. Elections held in Egypt in January 1924 gave the Wafd Party an overwhelming majority in parliament. The Wafd party leader, Zaghlul, became Prime Minister and remained a national hero, but he was able to take power only by accepting the safeguarding of British interests in Egypt.

Meanwhile the British wanted no competition with Egyptian forces in the Sudan. The Sudan had been considered Egyptian, and Zaghlul demanded that Egypt and Sudan be merged. On November 19, 1924, the British Governor-General of Sudan, Sir Lee Stack, was assassinated in Cairo and pro-Egyptian riots broke out in Sudan. The British demanded that Egypt pay an apology fee and withdraw troops from Sudan. Zaghlul agreed to the first but not the second, and he resigned.

The north of Sudan was predominantly Arab and Muslim and had maintained close ties with Egypt. The south of Sudan was black and a mixture of Christianity and animism. The British put Sudan's north and south under separate administrations. From 1924, it was illegal for people living in Sudan's north to go south of the 10th parallel and for people in the south to go above the 8th parallel. The British were interested in preventing the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases that had ravaged British troops, and they wanted to facilitate the spread of Christianity among the predominantly animist population in the south and to keep out Islamic influences.


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