Suez Conflict Begins
The 29th of October 1956 AD
The Suez Crisis may be seen as the event that sparked the realisation in Britain that the country was no longer a world power able to impose its will with military might. The true balance in what Churchill had in 1946 described as the special relationship enjoyed by Britain and America was seen very clearly through the lens of Suez.
President Nasser bolstered his position in Egypt and the wider Arab sphere by opposing Britain through the mid-1950s. Though the strategically and economically vital Suez Canal legally remained under Franco-British control until 1968, Nasser announced its nationalisation by Egypt on July 26 1956, that country’s forces moving to seize it as he spoke. Diplomatic pressure failed, and so Britain and France secured Israel’s participation in moves against Egypt, that last country’s invasion of the Sinai the beard for Anglo-French intervention ostensibly to secure peace, and serendipitously to re-take the canal.
On October 29 1956 Israeli forces penetrated the Sinai Peninsula; and on the vulnerable Israel-Jordan border carried out the Kafr Qasim Massacre.
Within days French and British troops had achieved various military objectives, but it was obvious the adventure was doomed as America (otherwise risking charges of hypocrisy given its criticism of Soviet intervention in Hungary) set its face against the action. Indeed Eisenhower was apparently prepared to bring about our financial ruin had Britain continued the campaign. Prime Minister Eden was forced to declare a cease fire on November 6 (surprising the French), and before the year’s end Anglo-French forces were out of Egypt. Eden resigned on January 9 1957, succeeded by Harold Macmillan , who recognized the anti-colonial wind of change long before his 1960 speech acknowledged its existence.
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