The Persian Sphinx
October 11, 1951 — The Decatur Herald
January 25 2011, five years ago today, a revolution in Egypt toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, part of the “Arab Spring” uprisings taking place across the Middle East.
In commemoration, here is a 1951 editorial from a Decatur, Illinois newspaper comparing the plight of Egypt and Iran, two nations who still have some troubles to sort out...
And Now Egypt
Inspired, perhaps, by the apparent success Iran is having in throwing off British control of its oil fields, Egypt announces a series of decrees intended to eject British troops from the Suez Canal zone and British influence from the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.
Egypt’s counterpart of Iran’s Mossadegh is Premier Nahas Pasha, who demands abrogation of the 1936 treaty which permits Great Britain 10,000 troops and 400 planes in the canal area and an end to the 1891 treaty which provides for joint rule over the Sudan. [Anglo-Italian Protocol, signed April 15, 1891]
The move has engulfed the Egyptian people in excitement. A cheering Parliament greeted Nahas Pasha’s statement of intent to cast off British influence, and demonstrators attempted to march on the British embassy in Cairo. The people are fired by what seems an opportunity for complete independence. Britain, it seems, has another Iran on its hands.
Does Britain deserve [to] have these life-giving props pulled from under it? For its history of colonization, perhaps? Britain’s hands, of course, are not clean. However, Britain gave as well as received.
Until this move, Egypt has been content to live in Britain’s shadow, permitting Britain to declare a protectorate over her temporarily as a war measure in 1914. This lasted until 1922, when England formally recognized Egypt as a sovereign, independent state. And in 1936, when Egypt was menaced by the Axis Powers, another treaty with Great Britain kept Egypt from active participation in or actual damage from World War II.
Egypt’s peak armed force during that war was 54,000, inadequate to protect either herself or the internationally-important Suez Canal. But the defeat of the Axis Powers and the establishment of the United Nations has, according to the prime minister, “put an end to all menace.” Thus, Egypt savors complete independence, and finds the taste to her liking.
Unfortunately, the issue here is not merely that of a one-time colonial power and a rebellion subject. It involves the defense plans of the Western world.
The spirit of nationalism being displayed in Iran and Egypt are commendable, if the effects are confined and localized. In the case of Iran, the oil fields help supply the Western world. In the case of Egypt, the canal is an important military point. Therefore, the unrest in these two nations concerns more than Great Britain; it involves the United Nations, where it is presumed both issues will be fought out in the end. The Iranian question already is being discussed here.
Since these nations play major roles in the West’s defense plans, their moves for nationalism must be considered in the light of all concerned.
Danger In Egypt — The Morning Herald, December 12, 1951
Mossadegh Uses Mild Blackmail — The Decatur Herald, November 17, 1951
Woes In the Near East — U.S. editorial, October 19, 1951
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”