Monday, November 06, 2006
If you've read my last post, you'll see my point on how Egypt was much better off during the Rule of Fouad,Farouk, ect... "J" Left this as a comment regarding my Egypt PRE-COUPE' ERA Post!, it was a great comment summarizing King Farouks Rule.
"My parents always maintained that Farouk was extremely popular when he first became King. But lost it for four reasons. 1) His feuds with the Wafd party (He continually appointed minority governments). 2) Failure to stand up to the British when they surrounded the Abdin Palace with tanks and latter when they attacked the Ismailia barracks. 3) The continual corruption scandals 4) Defeat by Israel.
(Oh did I mention that he was fat?)
During Farouks reign there was freedom of the press (except when British censored it in WW2), free elections and generally no political prisoners (Except when the Wafd imprisoned the pro-axisgovt after the British overthrew the govt in February 1942).
Also, under the 15 Farouks rule the number of schools tripled.
Farouks big problem was details. He was not interested in them. When he appointed either minority parties or bureaucrats to form governments .he would leave the policies to them. He was notorious for telephoning individual ministers with ideas the middle of the night (often from a dinner party) and then leaving it to the minister to sort it out .with the added risk that the King might forget or ask about it six months later.
When forced to appoint a Wafd government (either by the British or popular opinion) he would sulk and spend the next couple of years ignoring them and partying.
The British were the biggest problem. They viewed Farouks 39-42 government as pro-nazi, which was an exaggerationÂ .the Prime Minister tried to cut a deal with the Germans/Italians because it looked like the British were about to loose the war. As it was he became too obvious .and the then British ambassador surrounded the palace with tanks. He forced Farouk to re-appoint the Wafd. (Who thus screwed their credibility).
After that people were divided between those who felt sympathetic: that the King had no choice but concede to British demands and those who felt that he shouldhonorablehonourable thing by defying the British and being deposed.
Throughout the 1940s & early 50s there were a series of corruption scandals which involved politicians of all parties, senior bureaucrats and some minor members of the Royaskeptical A sceptical public saw the political establishment as increasingly venial and corrupt.
He dismissed that Wafd as soon as he could (1944?) and appointed another government of bureaucrats. They managed to negotiate a brilliant deal over the Canal .and what f*cked it? Sudan.laborritish Labour government offered to withdraw all British troops but wanted Sudanese self determination. The MB & Wafd wouldn't swallow that and so under pressure, Farouk rejected the deal (True!!!!). Then the 48 war with Israel and we lost.
I think that's when the MB started assassinating people in earnest .the Prime Minister anyway. (They'd killed a few judges in the fortiesÂ ..oh sorry they never assassinate people, any brother who does, did it without orders(?!) or had just left the brotherhood, right I believe that).
Now here something Ive often thought: the army lost the war. They blamed the government (i.e. King Farouk A guy not interested in details). Now, the govt was THEN made up civiliansÂ .not solders. In fact they would have left all the military decisions to the armyÂ .how then did the King get the blame?!?!?
Ultimately, yes. He was head of state and had appointed the govtÂ ..but the war was handled by the army and they lostÂ ..yet every school book blames Farouk. Hmmm.
4 years later the military coup (sorry revolution) happens.
Straight after the war Farouk appointed the Wafd and goes off on a sulk and a bender.
The Wafd decide to tackle the British (they're no longer friends), both in the canal and in Sudan. Also they start the war of attrition against Israel.
The Wafd sponsor the freedom battalions to attack both military & civilian targets. (The Brits called them terrorists). The aim was to make life difficult for the 80K troops they had there .and eventually they'd go home.
BUT Churchill was now in British PM (Labour was out) and anxious to prove that their dying empire wasnt dead yet. The attacks were carried out by the Liberation Battalions which were organized by Egyptian Intelligence from the Ismailia Police Barracks. On 25th January 1952 the British Army tanks & troops entered Egyptian territory to disarm the Egyptian Police. They expected no resistance. Instead the police refused to surrender. A pitched battle followed, in which 4 British soldiers and 42 Egyptian policemen were killed.
Only the Interior Minister Serageddin publicly called for popular resistance. Neither King nor the rest of the Wafdist government supported him. Both were intimidated by 80,000 strong British garrison in the Canal Zone.
The Egyptian Army, which was then only 50,000 strong, stayed in its barracks(!) and the police fought alone.
Anti-British riots swept the country and the Wafd fell. Farouk was unable to find anyone who could form a stable government.
Four governments were formed and fell between 25th January & 23rd July 1952. It was during this chaos, when public opinion of both King and Parliament were at their lowest that the Free Officers Movement launched their Military Coup.
The Free Officers did inform the American Ambassador (Who informed the British) just before it happened. (Apparently, they'd heard that the military police were going to arrest them so decided to act first, but told the Americans to try and play them against the Brits)
Te British Ambassador & the Military commander of the Canal Zone requested instructions from London. These arrived fairly late and were not to interfere.
The British did not like Farouk.
On the whole, Id agree Farouk was much better than what followed. Yes, he appointed govts. That didnt have parliamentary majorities but he never interfered with elections nor ban political parties (MB and communists excepted) nor have political prisoners nor interfere with press freedom nor have censorship.
Perhaps if he had he might have lasted longer.
On the minus side: He was lazy, left too much to subordinates and (worstcrime) had an eating disorder.
Egypts Liberal Constitutional Monarchy 1921 to 1952 RIP.
We'd be under Faud II now."