Suez Crisis 1956

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Timeline of Suez Crisis background events.

  • 1951-Egyptian government unilaterally abandons the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, ordering British withdrawal from the Suez Canal. Britain refused to leave, which led to growing violence towards the British troops there, resulting in riots and eventually, the overthrow of the Egyptian monarchy in 1952.
  • 1952-Arab-Israeli wars (Arab Cold War).
  • 1954-The agreement of British military withdrawal from Suez, in order to repair Anglo-Egyptian relations.
  • 1954-France begins to ship weapons to Israel, forming an alliance.
  • 1954-1955-President Nasser of Egypt begins asking for weapons from both USA and USSR for Arab-Israeli war. He was trying to exploit the Cold War between the two powers.
  • 1955-After Eden becomes British PM, he breaks a prior agreement with Nasser by refusing to sell Nasser arms
  • 1956-Nasser recognises People's Republic of China, causing the USA to withdraw financial support.
  • 1956-Nasser announces nationalisation of Suez Canal to fund the building of the Aswan Dam.
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Timeline of Suez Crisis post 1956 events.

1956

  • July-Nasser announces plans to nationalise Suez Canal, angering the USA and UK.
  • August-A national conference in London concocts several peaceful alternatives to war in order to reclaim Suez. Nasser rejects all of these.
  • October-Eden begins secret talks with France and Israel about a plan to reclaim Suez. Israel would invade Egypt and Britain and France would seize the Canal as an act of intervention. Israel invades but Nasser rejects British offering of an ultimatum.
  • November-British and French troops invade Port Said and take control of the Suez Canal. In a meeting of the British cabinet on 6 November, Harold Macmillan raises stark warnings of economic peril as a result of the action. Macmillan had previously been one of the strongest supporters of resolute action.

RESULT?

The United States, USSR and the United Nations condemn British and French military action. The loss of confidence and American backing for the already weak British economy forces Eden into calling a cease-fire. British public opinion is deeply divided over the use of force.
Under the impact of the Crisis, Eden is forced to resign

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WHO?

Anthony Eden

  • British PM 1955-1957.
  • Held a strong dislike of Nasser, seeing him as an evil dictator.
  • Plotted tripartite invasion of Egypt to reclaim Suez Canal.
  • Was forced to retreat under US and UN pressure.
  • resigned in 1957.

Nasser

  • President of Egypt 1956-1970
  • Wanted to see the end of British influence in Egypt.
  • Wanted to build Aswan Dam to boost economy.
  • Nationalised Suez Canal in 1956 after US retraction from the project.

Eisenhower

  • US President 1953-1961
  • Wanted to avoid war and condemned Tripartite invasion
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WHY?

Eden

  • Suez Canal was a vital shipping route, particularly for oil from the Middle East

Nasser

  • Nationalised Suez to fund Aswan Dam project.

Eisenhower

  • Wanted to increase US influence in Egypt during Cold War
  • condemned Tripartite invasion of Egypt as he needed Arab support in the Cold War.

Israel

  • aimed to gain upper hand in Arab-Iraeli War

USSR

  • Sold weapons to Nasser to try and win Arab support in Cold War
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RESULTS

Shortly after the Tripartite invasion in 1956 November was completed, British and French troops followed by taking control of Port Said, adjacent to the Suez Canal. They subjugate the town, effectively defeating the weak peoples militia which had formed to fight back.

However, in almost immediate response to the crisis, President Eisenhower of the USA condemned the actions of Eden and demanded a ceasefire and British withdrawal from Egypt. When Eden refused, Eisenhower threatened to halt American contributions to the British economy, causing an economic crisis. Eden finally withdrew British forces as the British economy was not strong enough to survive without American support.

Results

  • Britain no longer a world superpower. It was quickly and easily defeated by US pressure.
  • Anglo-American and Anglo-egyptian relations destroyed.
  • Britain enters a financial crisis.
  • Anthony Eden forced to resign as PM.
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