Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936

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The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 was a treaty signed between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Egypt; it is officially (but seldom) known as The Treaty of Alliance Between His Majesty, in Respect of the United Kingdom, and His Majesty, the King of Egypt. Under the terms of the treaty, the United Kingdom was required to withdraw all its troops from Egypt, except those necessary to protect the Suez Canal and its surroundings, numbering 10,000 troops plus auxiliary personnel. Additionally, the United Kingdom would supply and train Egypt's army and assist in its defence in case of war. The treaty was to last for 20 years; it was negotiated in the Zaafarana palace, signed in London on 26 August 1936 and ratified on 22 December. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 6 January 1937.[1]

Among the pretexts for the treaty was the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, which had started in 1935. King Farouk feared that the Italians might invade Egypt or drag it into the fighting. The 1936 treaty did not resolve the question of Sudan, which, under the terms of the existing Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement of 1899, stated that Sudan should be jointly governed by Egypt and Britain, but with real power remaining in British hands.[2] With rising tension in Europe, the treaty expressively favoured maintaining the status quo. The treaty, however, was not welcomed by Egyptian nationalists like the Arab Socialist Party, who wanted full independence. It ignited a wave of demonstrations against the British and the Wafd Party, which had supported the treaty.

On 23 September 1945, after the end of World War II, the Egyptian government demanded the modification of the treaty to terminate the British military presence, and also to allow the annexation of the Sudan.[3] Following the Wafd Party's victory in the boycotted 1950 election of Egypt, the new Wafd government unilaterally abrogated the treaty in October 1951. Three years later, and with new government leadership under Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, the UK agreed to withdraw its troops in the Anglo–Egyptian Agreement of 1954; the British withdrawal was completed in June 1956. This date is seen as when Egypt gained full independence, although Nasser had already established an independent foreign policy that caused tension with several Western powers.

Following the abrupt withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam, Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956,[4] ostensibly to pay for the dam, although in reality the Soviets provided most of the funding. The nationalisation was technically in violation of the international agreement that Nasser had signed on 19 October 1954, although he agreed to pay compensation to the shareholders. Some months later, France, Israel and Britain colluded to overthrow Nasser,[5] and the Suez Crisis ensued.

The Suez Crisis brought the western alliance to a disastrous juncture, where the United States became distrusted by Britain and France. The Soviet Union threatened Britain, France and Israel with nuclear bombardment if they did not withdraw from Egypt. The United States did not side with its Anglo-French allies and instead supported the Soviet Union's demand for Anglo-French withdrawal.

Background[edit]

In November 1918, seven prominent Egyptians from the landed gentry and the legal profession, including Sa'd Zaghlul, formed a delegation, or wafd that's chief goal was the complete independence of Egypt from British rule. But when the wafd asked the British high commander in Egypt if they could represent the country at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, he refused. As a result, the delegation organizers took their message of independence to the people of Egypt and this led to the founding of one of the most popular political parties in modern Egyptian history.[6]

Wafdist leaders thought that the ideas of independence and constitutional government were closely related and they had someone to model themselves after, the British. In 1923, a constitution was proclaimed, and in January 1924 the first elections were held to decide who would be a part of the new parliament. Many European educated Egyptians believed that the mere existence of a constitution and a parliament would legitimize Egyptian claims for complete independence.[6]

But Egyptian democratic independence ran into many obstacles; the nature of the constitution gave many powers to the king, including the power to dissolve parliament. So the king used this constitutional power to get rid of parliament when they went against his wishes, culminating in many periods of royal rule. The British also continued to meddle in Egyptian politics, and they did not allow for a fully independent political apparatus to develop. Also the Wafd party and other minor political parties never created a coalition to stand together against the British, instead they held each other in contempt. The result of these obstacles was a constant struggle for power between the British-backed King Fuad, and the Wafd party that sought complete independence from the British.

The intense desire for real independence was only partially fulfilled in 1936, when Britain agreed to renegotiate the 1922 declaration of independence, because of Italian expansionism into Ethiopia in 1935.[6]

References[edit]

General
Specific

Cleveland, Bunton (2013). A History of the Modern Middle East. Boulder: Westview Press.

  1. ^ League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 173, pp. 402–431.
  2. ^ Robert O. Collins, A History of Modern Sudan
  3. ^ Jessup, John E. (1989). A Chronology of Conflict and Resolution, 1945-1985. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-24308-5. 
  4. ^ "Suez crisis" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Ed. Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  5. ^ Avi Shlaim, The Protocol of Sèvres,1956: Anatomy of a War Plot Published in International Affairs, 73:3 (1997), 509–530
  6. ^ a b c Cleveland, Bunton (2013). A History of the Modern Middle East. Boulder: Westview Press.

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