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Advertisement Hide. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. He had contemplated such a move for some time, but the U. Seizure of the canal would not only provide additional funding for the Aswan project but would also make Nasser a hero in the eyes of many Arab nationalists.
The canal, built by a private company headed by Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps, had opened to much fanfare in It quickly altered the trade routes of the world, and two-thirds of the tonnage passing through the canal was British. Khedive Ismail Pasha, who owned 44 percent of the company shares, found himself in dire financial straits, and in the British government stepped in and purchased his shares. In Britain acquired the island of Cyprus north of Egypt from the Ottoman Empire, further strengthening its position in the eastern Mediterranean north of Egypt.
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The British also increased their role in Egyptian financial affairs, and in they intervened militarily in Egypt, promising to depart once order had been restored. He was a staunch Arab nationalist, determined to end British influence in Egypt. In he succeeded in renegotiating the treaty with the British to force the withdrawal of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone. The last British forces departed the Canal Zone only a month before Nasser nationalized the canal. The British government now took the lead in opposing Nasser. British Prime Minister Anthony Eden developed a deep and abiding hatred of the Egyptian leader.
For Eden, ousting Nasser from power became nothing short of an obsession. The Algerian War, which began in November , had greatly expanded and had become an imbroglio for the government, now led by socialist Premier Guy Mollet Nasser was a strong and vocal supporter of the NLF, and there were many in the French government and military who believed that overthrowing him would greatly enhance French chances of winning the Algerian War.
Israel formed the third leg in the triad of powers arrayed against Nasser. Also, Egypt had never recognized the Jewish state and indeed remained at war with it following the Israeli War of Independence during In , Israel mounted a half dozen crossborder raids, while Egypt carried out its own raids into Israeli territory by fedayeen, or guerrilla fighters. During the months that followed Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal, the community of interest among British, French, and Israeli leaders developed into secret planning for a joint military operation to topple Nasser.
The U. The British and French governments either did not understand the American attitude or, if they did, believed that Washington would give approval after the fact to policies undertaken by its major allies, which the latter believed to be absolutely necessary. The British government first tried diplomacy.
Two conferences in London attended by the representatives of twenty-four nations using the canal failed to produce agreement on a course of action, and Egypt refused to participate. A proposal by U. On 1 October, Dulles announced that the United States was disassociating itself from British and French actions in the Middle East and asserted that the United States intended to play a more independent role. Meanwhile, secret talks were going forward, first between the British and French for joint military action against Egypt. The French then brought the Israeli government in on the plan, and General Maurice Challe, deputy chief of staff of the French Air Force, undertook a secret trip to the Middle East to meet with Israeli government and military leaders.
The Israelis were at first skeptical about British and French support. They also had no intention of moving as far as the canal itself. The Israelis stated that their plan was merely to send light detachments to link up with British and French forces. They also insisted that British and French military intervention occur simultaneously with their own attack. Under it, the Israelis would initiate hostilities against Egypt in order to provide the pretext for military intervention by French and British forces to protect the canal.
This action would technically be in accord with the terms of the treaty between Egypt and Britain that had given Britain the right to send forces to occupy the Suez Canal Zone in the event of an attack against Egypt by a third power. All parties agreed to this new plan. Meanwhile, unrest began in Hungary on 23 October, and the next day Soviet tanks entered Budapest to put down what had become the Hungarian Revolution. French and British planners were delighted at the news of an international distraction that seemed to provide them a degree of freedom of action. On 29 October, Israeli forces began an invasion of the Sinai Peninsula with the announced aim of eradicating the fedayeen bases.
A day later, on 30 October, the British and French governments issued an ultimatum, nominally to both the Egyptian and Israeli governments but in reality only to Egypt, expressing the need to separate the combatants and demanding the right to provide for the security of the Suez Canal. The ultimatum called on both sides to withdraw their forces 10 miles from the canal and gave them twelve hours to reply.
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Facebook Twitter Pinterest Share. Description No event in post World War II diplomacy has been more written about than the Suez crisis of and for good reason: it signaled the fall of British power and influence in the Middle East.
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But most accounts, based on limited information, have focused on the invasion of Suez and the collusion between Britain, France, and Israel as the turning point in Washington's break with London and its assumption of power in the region. Now, using the most up-to-date U.
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His book is rich with fresh interpretations based on new evidence. Freiberger argues that the Suez crisis was only the culmination of years of American irritation with British imperialism in the Middle East; that the Eisenhower administration developed a coherent anti-colonial plan; that Washington used the Suez crunch to pressure Anthony Eden's removal as prime minister; and that in the end American strategy was a failure-it alienated the Arabs and permitted Soviet expansion in the region. Dawn Over Suez is an important reappraisal of a critical period in American diplomacy and offers keys to understanding our present-day problems in the Middle East.