13 MAY 1882, Page 8


THE speech of M. de Freycinet, on Thursday, though in- tentionally reticent, throws some light upon the danger- ous situation now existing in. Egypt. It explains, to begin with, the position of the European Governments, which is, in

brief, this. All the Powers have expected for some time that the Army in Egypt, represented by the Premier, Mahmoud Baroudi, and the Minister at War, Arabi Pasha, would come into collision with the Khedive, and either by deposing him or by coercing him, reduce the country to a state of anarchy. In anticipation of this collision, they have communicated with each other, and have, as M. de Freycinet explicitly states, formally entrusted England and France, as the Powers most interested in Egyptian security, with the right of restoring order. 'England and France have accepted that mandate, and agreed in the contingency specified to intervene, the only point left undecided being the method of intervention. England desired to use Turkish troops, as the force least likely to be resisted ; while France, fearing the rehabilitation of the Sultan's authority in Africa, desired to employ any other agency in preference. Matters stood thus in the beginning of the week, when the

Military party in Egypt, urged on, as we think, by certain symptoms in the Army pointing to a revolt of the non-Arab officers, suddenly brought about the anticipated collision. Certain Turkish and Circassian officers had plotted to kill or arrest, or, it may be, only to depose, Arabi Bey, and a Court- martial ordered by the latter condemned them to imprisonment in the Soudan, a penalty exceedingly severe in itself, and likely to be followed by secret executions. It ordered, more- 'over, that large groups of officers, not tried, or even named, should be placed under surveillance. The Khedive, Tewfik, 'who is a Turk, and who was warned from Constantinople that 'the sentence was inadmissible, refused to confirm it, and substituted exile upon half-pay, thus, among other things, securing the officers' lives. He was supported in this course

by the European representatives, but was resisted by the Premier and Arabi Pasha, who, in a final interview, it is said, threatened the Khedive with deposition, and the Europeans with a general massacre. The latter portion of this state- ment is denied, but it is obvious, from the reply of Sir Charles Dilke to Sir Drummond Wolff's questions, that it has been sufficiently authenticated to alarm the Governments of Great Britain and France for the safety of their subjects. The Khedive, somewhat unexpectedly to those who know his 'weakness of character, held out, and at last signed the decree commuting the sentences into simple exile. The effect of this decision on the Army is to show every officer hostile to Arabi 'Pasha that he has a protector in Tewfik ; and the " Ministry," —that is, the two Army leaders,—have in desperation convoked the Notables, without the Khedive's consent, and therefore illegally, in order to propose the deposition of Tewfik, and the substitution of some other candidate. Such a proceeding is, of course, revolutionary, and can only be made successful by the instrumentality of the Army, which, if it obeys Mahmoud and Arabi, openly announces that it is the supreme power in the country, with the right of making and unmaking rulers. It is simply impossible that such a pretension should be tolerated while Egypt is protected, and while the Sultan is prevented from asserting his ultimate right to restore the authority of his Firman by despatching troops. The two Powers to whom Europe has delegated its authority must intervene, and only three methods of intervention are in practice possible. Either England and France must authorise Turkish troops to land, or they must 'employ the troops of some other Power, say Greece, or they must land their own men at Alexandria and 'Suez to support the Khedive. There are no more alternatives, if force is required ; and that force is required is obvious, from

Sir Charles Mike's admission that European subjects now require protection. The French Government, however, as we think wisely, rejects the first alternative ; no Government is known to be ready to consent to the second ; and the third therefore, becomes the only practicable course. It is one full of difficulties and dangers, but it was accepted while M. Gam- betta was in power, and promises, amidst the numerous difficulties, the least amount of evil consequence. We presume, therefore, that if the Egyptian Ministry persists, it will be adopted, and that Mahmoud Baroudi and Arabi Pasha will be dismissed, a mili- tary rebellion being averted by a distinct menace of an interven- tion, which the soldiery know quite well they could not resist, and by the presence of ironclads off Alexandria. The autho- rity of Prince Tewfik will thus be restored, without any altera tion in the status of Egypt, and the Powers can then consult as to the propriety of selecting a stronger Khedive.

Will the two military leaders resist ? If they were a little more intelligent, we should say decidedly not ; and even as it is, if Tewfik shows any decision at all, the balance of proba- bility leans to that side. Neither Mahmoud nor Arabi is quite carried away, or quite confident of the Army, or quite sure whom to appoint Khedive, or they would not have attempted to divide responsibility by illegally convoking the Notables. They evidently are afraid to take the only decided course, that of arresting Tewfik, announcing their new candidate, and proclaiming Egypt independent as regards internal affairs. Something checks them, and the something is probably their knowledge that if Tewfik is driven into a decided course, he may find protectors in the arrested officers, in sections of the Army, and among the Mussulman population. A strong Khedive would even now have the rebels' heads, and Tewfik, driven to the wall as he has been, may act as if he were strong. We, think, therefore, order will be restored, but it is not certain. Mahmoud and Arabi may think life is at stake, and there is a vein of desperation and even ferocity in men of their type which may induce them to act with savage recklessness. If they do, the single chance for order, and even for the lives of the Europeans, is that they must proclaim a ruler, and a ruler on the spot, and that he may choose that order shall be maintained. He will be quite absolute, for a short time, and will have no interest in letting either troops or mob get out of hand, or in permitting acts which will in no long time terminate the independence of Egypt in favour of some European rule. The consequences of a deposition of Tewfik by military violence may be most dreadful, and we trust that the two Governments will not only act, but act with an energy which will give heart to the Khedive, whose weakness has allowed so dangerous a crisis. If he had arrested Arabi at first, promising at the same time the redress of the main grievance, the European domination in affairs outside the Debt, the Army would have remained what it pro- perly is,—a very obedient, very ill-paid, and very badly-drilled local militia.