The Chargé in Egypt (Winship) to the Secretary of State

No. 146

Sir: I have the honor to report that the question of the modification of the Capitulations was pigeon-holed last March by Lord Lloyd2 mainly because of the organized newspaper campaign launched against foreign influence in Egypt by its supporters in the native press, and in particular by El Siyasa, the Liberal Constitutional Organ. However, when Sarwat Pasha, an important leader of this party, became Prime Minister an immediate change in the tone of the paper was apparent, and it became possible to discuss Capitulatory questions without the accompaniment of newspaper outcries.

Conversations during the Summer, especially in London, encouraged Sarwat in the hope of realizing certain modifications with guarantees, and while he still favors this plan, the Wafdists continue to demand the complete abolition of the Capitulations.

The Egyptian Government is very anxious to call a congress, to be held in the Spring of 1928, in Cairo, to review and perhaps reorganize the entire system, and recently a note was drawn up inviting each country to appoint delegates. Pressure from Italy and France, fearing abolition of the Capitulations, and from The Residency urging moderation, has, I understand, caused a change of plan.

A note is now in preparation outlining Egypt’s hopes and aspirations, as well as the interest taken in the protection and welfare of foreigners in the country. It complains that the Capitulatory institutions hinder the progress of the country, and expresses the Government’s desire to reconsider the question of the Capitulations with a view to having them replaced by an institution more in harmony with modern times. The immediate request will cover, it is thought, very much the same points as outlined in a memorandum left by me in the [Page 744] Near Eastern Division of the Department of State last May.3 These points are:

Reconsideration of the Mixed Civil Code, giving more latitude to the Egyptian Government in drafting laws affecting all persons in Egypt; and extension of the competence of the Mixed Courts in all matters dealing with the sale of narcotics, the white slave trade, and fraudulent trading;

The creation of a new Chamber in the Mixed Court of Appeals, to be made up of three instead of five judges; and to hear urgent cases in which a judgment has been given in the first instance by only one judge;

An amendment making the office of President or Vice President of the Mixed Tribunal open to an Egyptian; and modifying the rules for the choice of Presiding Judges of the Mixed Court of Appeal and the other Courts;

Abolition of the rule which prevents the Egyptian Government from granting decorations to Mixed Court Judges.

It is now thought that these points will be mentioned in the note, which will also invite the Powers to express their views and send delegates to a Congress. The exact procedure to be taken is not known, however, but it would seem evident that something on the subject will be forth-coming early in the new year.

I have [etc.]

North Winship
  1. For previous correspondence concerning the Mixed Courts in Egypt, see Foreign Relations, 1927, vol. ii, pp. 555 ff.
  2. British High Commissioner in Egypt.