The Nile Waters Agreement

Courtesy Reuters

THE Egyptian Gazette of May 9, 1929, carried the text of an agreement on the long-debated question as to the use of the waters of the River Nile. The agreement, which recognizes on the one hand.that the Sudan needs more

water for its development, and on the other hand that Egypt has historic rights in the Nile waters, took the shape of two letters; the first was addressed to Lord Lloyd, the British High Commissioner, by Muhammed Mahmoud Pasha, President of the Egyptian Council of Ministers, the second was the High Commissioner's reply.

Explaining his action, the Prime Minister commented on it as follows to the Cairo correspondent of the London Times: "I, as an Egyptian, believe that the agreement on the waters of the Nile fully and completely safeguards Egypt's rights. Had I had the slightest fear that this agreement would deprive Egypt of any right she has hitherto enjoyed, or prejudice any just claim she may make in future, I would not have signed it. I have consulted engineers of the highest standing, technically and otherwise, and I am convinced that the agreement embodies the Egyptian point of view in regard to the waters of the Nile."

But the Balagh, the mouthpiece of the Wafd, as the party now in opposition is called, took a very different view, and on May 18 published a lengthy criticism of the understanding. Parliament was not in session when the agreement was signed, so that one has no authoritative means of telling what the fellah thinks of the matter. A dispassionate analysis seems to show, however, that the accord, whether perfect or imperfect, makes a distinct step forward in the establishment of healthy Anglo-Egyptian relations and registers a net gain for Egypt.


The third paragraph of Muhammed Mahmoud Pasha's letter to Lord Lloyd reads as follows:

The Egyptian Government agree that a settlement of these questions (irrigation questions) cannot be deferred until such time as it may be possible for the two Governments (Great

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