Suez Crisis, 1956


July 26, 1956 the Suez Crisis had begun when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. The United States decided to remove its offer of a grant to aid the construction of Egypt’s Aswan High Dam recently before the Suez Canal was nationalized. Britain and France were secretly planning an invasion of Egypt; just as Israel was soon planning their own invasion. French officials suggested that both France and British forces could enter Egypt to separate Israel’s invasion of Sinai, and control the entire Suez Canal. October 26, the United States learned of Israel’s military movements, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent one out of two personal messages to Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion asking that they don’t endanger the peace. October 29, refusing Eisenhower’s request, Israel began attacks on Egypt. The battle for control of the Suez Canal had been imposed by attacks on Egypt.suez_canal_map.jpg

Main Point

The British government issued an Anglo-French ultimatum calling on the Israelis and Egyptians to withdraw their forces to a distance of ten miles from the Suez Canal, and demanding that Egypt allow British and French forces to occupy key positions, for a relatively small amount of time, guarding the canal. The American Navy ordered one attack carrier, a heavy cruiser and a destroyer squadron to get ready to sail to the Mediterranean to enhance the Sixth Fleet and a second CVA and a division of destroyers to be on 72-hour notice. At dusk, on October 31, Anglo-French air strikes dropped onto Egypt. The Suez Crisis increased in intensity on the afternoon of November 5 when the Soviet Union sent diplomatic notes to Britain, France and Israel threatening to crush the aggressors and restore peace in the Middle East through the use of force. After investigating the threat of the Soviet Union, Eisenhower was fully prepared to use all they got. A cease-fire had been agreed upon on November 6, Britain and France ended their military operations that night. The Soviet Union continued the next few days with their military force.


The Canadian external affairs minister, Lester Pearson, helped put an end to this fight over the canal. He suggested the creation of a United Nations Emergency Force to keep the peace between the opposing forces until a political settlement could be achieved. Once November 15 rolled by the tension between the countries had been soothed, when United Nations forces were sent into Egypt to provide a buffer between the Egyptians and invading forces. From then on, the threat of the Soviet Union was gradually disintegrating. Until the British had fled Egypt, America had threaten to sell government bonds, these bonds aided Britain’s economy and as partial payment of Britain’s debt to the United States from World War II. Portugal and Iceland had suggested banning Britain and France from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which resulted in Britain retreating from Egypt. The Egyptian government had objected to Canadian peacekeeping troops on the grounds that their flag at that time included a British ensign. The Suez Canal was successfully returned to Egyptian control and has been beneficial in transportation between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.