The Consul General at Alexandria (Russell) to the Secretary of State

No. 624

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatches Nos. 613 and 615, of January 23 and February 1, 1935,21 with reference to the reorganization of the Municipality of Alexandria, and to transmit herewith a copy of a letter addressed by the Association of Export Commerce of this city, dated February 16, 1935,22 to His Excellency Tewfik Pacha Nessim, President of the Council of Ministers of the Egyptian Government, together with a suggested translation thereof.

The members of this organization as well as the import merchants and real estate owners were, as indicated in the letter, fully represented in the Municipal Commission from January 5, 1890, to January 1, 1935, and under the reorganization are not so represented, except by the general group of foreign representatives on the new commission. Inasmuch as these three groups do actually pay a large proportion of the taxes of the Municipality, and inasmuch as their representation on the old Municipal Commission was a recognition of this fact and was insisted upon by the Capitulatory Powers, the fact that they are no longer so represented and yet will presumably be called upon to pay the existing taxes (and possibly others) in the future, strongly supports their present protest.

It is understood that the French and Italian Legations at Cairo have made in writing certain friendly representations and formulated certain reservations on the question of the reorganization of the Municipality of Alexandria, with the Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and that the Belgian Government has adhered to these representations and reservations. Apparently all other governments represented at Cairo have taken no definite stand as yet in the matter. It is clearly apparent from the local press, and still more so from conversations which the undersigned has had recently with various British merchants engaged in the import and export trade and with British property owners, that these people do not feel at the present time that their unfavorable attitude is of a nature to modify that of the British Residency at Cairo, which at least tacitly is approving of the reorganization of the Municipality of Alexandria.

As stated in previous despatches, the British official attitude towards any organization or movement of an international character tending to maintain the capitulatory rights seems to be distinctly unfriendly. Therefore considerable pressure upon the Residency (and presumably on the British Foreign Office as well) is believed locally to be [Page 580] necessary before the attitude shown by the French, Italian and Belgian Governments is supported by the British authorities in Egypt. The attitude of Greece seems to be based on cooperation with Great Britain at present, in spite of the large interests of Greek nationals at Alexandria.

The Consulate General would again reiterate its belief that the most likely challenge to the present municipal reorganization will be before the Mixed Tribunals when the Municipality of Alexandria attempts to collect taxes under the present regime from powerful and wealthy foreign firms. Furthermore, there is much reason to believe that such a challenge would be upheld by these tribunals.

Respectfully yours,

H. Earle Russell
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not printed.