Suez Canal Crisis of 1956 - Essay Example

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The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway which connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. It is a 160 km long channel which is made through the Sinai Desert. The canal was designed by a French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps. …
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Suez Canal Crisis of 1956
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Download file to see previous pages To undertake construction Ferdinand de Lesseps created a company with Egyptian partners known as the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company. At the time the Ottoman Empire had influence and control over Egypt’s politics. The economic crisis forced Egypt’s ruler to sell his shares of the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company to England. England now had considerable share in the operation of the canal along with French investors, whereas Egypt lost control over the canal and its profits. The period saw great turmoil and the wars made the potential and strategic importance of the canal apparent to all forces. The British Imperial Empire had colonies across the world and the canal proved to be essential for trade. In 1882 Egypt was invaded by the British and the country was termed an indispensable possession of the British Empire. The canal became a super highway for the British to link its trade to its colonies in East Africa, India, and Australia. Egyptian rebel groups tried to push British Colonial Empire but were not successful.
2. Weakening of the British Colonial Empire
After the World War II, the British Empire faced economic difficulties to maintain its colonial empire. The Indian subcontinent was left after the war and the British forces were weakened. The time saw an uprising among the Egyptians to phase out the British from the country. The British maintained presence of a garrison at Suez to protect her strategic interests. The British were allowed to maintain presence of 10,000 troops on the basis of Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 (Tucker 107). But Egyptian rebel groups started gaining popularity of the masses and pressure increased over Britain to vacate the area. The events ultimately led to a coup in 1952 and finished kingship in the country. Egypt was made a republic by the key member of the coup and the new president of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser. 3. Nationalization of Suez Canal Gamal Abdel Nasser was the second president of Egypt and gathered support against the colonialist. He shifted cooperation of Egypt towards the Soviets and the actions were against the two super powers of the time, the British and the French. He was viewed as a great threat by the two forces. At the time the US had very less influence in the Middle East. Its main ally in the region was Saudi Arabia. Gamal Abdel Nasser moved towards Saudi Arabia for its future ties and the US saw an opportunity to increase influence in the region. The biggest step that Gamal took against the British and the French was perhaps the nationalization of the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956 (Witte 51). This step was the basis of this crisis. The British and the French militaries were exhausted and their economies were at a low stage. Gamal took over the Suez Canal without firing a single shot and the Suez Canal came under Egypt. He cancelled the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 and forced the British to vacate the canal within the next 20 months (Tucker 107). This was a surprise move by the army and the British forces were not given a chance to react. The Suez Canal Company was frozen and all its shareholders were given the share. 4. Buildup of Egyptian Army Foreseeing the threats, Gamal used his newly developed relations to build up his army on modern weapons through an arms deal with Czechoslovakia (DeRouen and Heo 346). These weapons were from the Soviets and the two countries became close allies. The Soviets equipped Egypt with modern tanks and its air force with fighters and bombers. Artillery guns were given to Egypt and Self Propelled Artillery pieces were procured from the Soviets to move along with the tanks in the desert ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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