50 years since Suez
history and heritage |
Wednesday July 26, 2006 18:58 by iosaf
on the 26th of July 1956 Nassar read the proclamation in Cairo by which his popular government liberated the Suez Canal from joint Anglo-French imperialist stockholders.
It was one of the most significant nationalisation declarations of history leading to an attack by French & British troops on Egypt and then their sudden abandonment by the USA. 1956 for many proved the watershed (forgive the pun) which forever locked Britian and France out of their imperialist past and proved their inability to act "on their own" if the USA did not support their actions.
Construction began on the canal in 1859 and ten years later in 1869 the 163-km-long (101 miles) canal opened for business allowing merchant & other shipping to pass from the Mediteranean to Red Seas ( & vice versa ).
Between 1875 and 1882 British shareholders increased their control of the Canal company from 44% to total control. By the mid 1930's the British had also declared a "Canal Zone" perhaps influenced by the US creation of a "Panama Canal Zone", but more probably because it looked good on paper at the Commonwealth Office in London and most importantly offered them control of Egypt's most important strategic resource after independence had been declared in 1922 . In 1952, a military coup d'état forced King Farouk I, the then constitutional monarch, to abdicate in favour of his son King Ahmed Fouad II. This part of Egyptian history brought a series of mostly military characters to the stage & they were called "the 1952 movement". Simply because that was the year it happened in and in the next year they booted King Amhed Fouad II into exile, declared the second "Egyptian Republic" on the 18th of June with General Muhammad Naguib as first President. of the Republic.
Naguib lasted a year - and then a man credited by many as the real power behind the "1952 movement" Gamal Abdel Nasser (January 15, 1918 – September 28, 1970) came to power. He was what was in those days still called a "charismatic, idealistic, good-looking chap in a sort of rugged Omar Sharrif sort of way".
And the first thing he did was propose to finish the Aswan Dam with help from the Soviet Union. since he had also asked them for "mig fighters" * Back in London and Paris no-one thought he looked like Omar Sharrif anymore and they started conspiring against him in the best sort of Agatha Christie murder on the Nile sort of way.
"money, commies, migs & red chinese" came into it :-
Proper planning had begun in 1952 to rebuild the Dam, just after the Nasser revolution, and at first the US and Britain promised to help finance that with a loan of USD $270 million. Both nations cancelled the offer in July 1956 for reasons not entirely known. A secret Egyptian arms agreement with Czechoslovakia (which was the name of a state in Europe's Warsaw Pact alliance which today comprises two seperate countries Slovakia and Czech republic) and Egyptian recognition of the People's Republic of China were bandied about as reasons.
Nassar told them to feck off. & on this very day 50 years ago nationalised the Canal intedning to use its income to cover the building costs of the Aswan Dam.
The UK, France & Israel attacked Egypt and occupied the Suez Canal.
& then for one of the few times in history The United Nations agreed on something probably because the US and USSR had already agreed :- the UK, France & Israel were told to withdraw and the canal was left to Egypt.
"History was made" - A young Yasser Arafat served in the Egyptian Army, the world was an emergent form of "pan-arab nationalism" develop (at end it would see 3 variations with the possible contemporary addition of the "pan-islamist-caliphate" being a 4th).
Read some more & learn about it
The "charismatic, idealistic, good-looking chap in a sort of rugged Omar Sharrif sort of way"
His beginning to Pan-arabism, influence on Baathism, legacy to the Caliphate-
The Places -
The War -
The British memories :-