The Suez Crisis
Background of the Suez Crisis
The Suez crisis was an international crisis in the Middle East occasioned in 1956, July 26th when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal. The canal had been solely owned by Suez Canal Company while under control by British and French interests. The situation had been slowly brewing over time and two years earlier, Egyptian military had been putting a lot of pressure on the British to end their military presence in the Suez Canal area.
Suez Canal is a 120 mile canal connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It more ten years to construct it and it was officially opened in 1869. It was further developed by Frenchman, Ferdinand de Lesseps who had in the 1880’s attempted to develop the Panama Canal but he was unsuccessful.
Nasser’s armed forces took part in sporadic fights with Israeli military along the border of the two countries. Egyptian leader did not conceal his antipathy in any way towards the Zionist state.
Nasser with the support of Soviet arms and finances as well as a furious United States of America for reneging to offer funds for the construction of the canal, he ordered that the canal be seized and nationalized. This move angered the British military and the sought help from France because they believed that the Egyptian president was supporting rebels in Algeria, a French colony and Israel. Israel only needed a little form of provocation to strike the enemy on its border in an armed assault.
The Suez Crisis in 1956-57
On 26th October 1956, the Israelis struck. Two days later, French and British military forces joined in. forces from the three countries had originally planned to strike at once but French and British troops were delayed. They were behind schedule but highly successfully therefore, British and French army took control of the Suez Canal zone.
However, their hesitation had given Soviet Union time to respond as it was faced by a brewing crisis in Hungary. Eager to explore and exploit Arab nationalism and gain a foothold in the Middle East, the Soviets supplied arms from Czechoslovakia to Egyptian government in 1955. In the end, they helped Egypt to construct Aswan Dam on Nile River when the United States of America refused to support the project.
Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Leader railed against the attack and threatened to send nuclear missiles to Western Europe especially if Israeli, British and French forces did not withdraw immediately.
Later on President Dwight Eisenhower responded but his administration was closely monitored and measured. It warned the Soviets that any reckless talk on nuclear conflict could worsen the situation. He warned Soviet leader that he should refrain from any direct intervention in the fight.
Eisenhower in 1890 -1969 issued stern warnings to Israelis; French and British troops that they needed to abandon their campaign and withdraw from Egyptian soil. He was however upset specifically with British men for not keeping the USA informed clearly about their motives in the country.
The United States of America further threatened to issue economic sanctions on the three countries if they continued with their attack. The threats worked. French and British forces withdrew in December when they were evacuated by the UN. The UN offered its support because of the US sponsored resolutions in the organization as made in part to manage or counter all Soviet threats of Intervention. Israeli troops on the other hand lastly succumbed to the pressure from the US in March 1957.
Gamal Abdel Nasser emerged a victor in the Suez Crisis. He was a hero for Egyptian and Arab nationalism. Israel did not get freedom to use the canal but it regains many shipping rights in the Straits of Tiran.
What’s more, in the aftermath of Suez Canal crisis, France and Britain found their influence as world powers became less powerful. They were the less fortunate in a crisis hence, lost their influence in the Middle East region.
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