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50 years since Suez

category international | history and heritage | news report author Wednesday July 26, 2006 18:58author by iosaf Report this post to the editors

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 :-

author by Ali H.publication date Wed Jul 26, 2006 19:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And Israel still hasn't learned that it must make permanent peace with its neighbours and stop looking for a military solution to what is a political problem.

"The Israeli government is arrogant, fat and dumb enough to think the lessons in Iraq don't apply to it.

I just don't see any good coming from the Israelis destroying Beruit using American weapon systems bought with U.S. foreign aid, while Condi "no ceasefire" Rice comes in with chump change for assistance and platitudes about a multinational force (but no US forces) to show the U.S. government's "concern" over the violence in the Middle East. And why would any nation sign up to occupy South Lebanon when the Israeli forces are taking out UN observer posts? There can be no good that comes of this."

Related Link:
author by iosafpublication date Wed Jul 26, 2006 22:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It didn't really hit Ireland till late in '56, when reduced oil importation (nothing like the later Oil Crises) prompted Sean MacBride to ask the then taoiseach (John A Costello of FG) if Ireland would focus more on turf as an energy resource.

Sean MacBride of course was a founding member of Amnesty International, and the only person to win both a Nobel Peace prize and the Lenin Peace Prize. After those his UN silver medal seemed tacky. Today he's remembered fondly for the accent.

So 50 years ago today, an event happened in what for almost 170 years had been the sphere of influence of the rival French and British empires. An event which saw 6,000 Egyptian soldiers held as prisoners of war by Israel. & the US brokerage for reconciliation saw Lester B Pearson on his way to win a UN peace prize in 1957. Mr Pearson "the daddy of UN peace keeping missions".

50 years on, the world is a bit befuddled about how to patch a peace keeping mission (be it UN or NATO or even lack of constitution forbid "EU") to keep peace.

50 years on, the USA really believes Egyptian forces should be part of any Lebanese venture.
50 years on, the UK vetos whatever the USA tells it to... hence the disastrous Rome Summit on Israeli aggression on both Lebanon and cough cough UN peace keeping observer posts.

I for one, happen to believe Mr MacBride may have been right. We should have stopped our reliance on foreign fossil fuels and concentrated on our bogs. Burning everything between the Curragh and the river Shannon. Every prayer book. Every lost sunken warrior. By now we would have moved onto solar power and windmills.

author by iosafpublication date Sat Jul 29, 2006 20:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Of course they didn't have the option of UN peace keepers then. No-one had even dreamt of a bright blue turban. & to be honest NATO was still more of a theory than anything with real deployment capability.
How much has changed since the epoch of Dr Omar Sharif. His first English language movie was Lawrewnce of Arabia in 1962 playing opposite the Irish born Peter o' Toole in a splendidly romantic and slightly g-a-y account of the British Empire's stunning recruitment of the arabs.


I recommend reading these articles :-

& for the moment if you don't have time to read all of "Hariri's Game" , I'd just draw your attention to number 3 which recounted the week that Bush declared "the Cedar Revolution", in his landmark speech he warned Syria "what part of this don't you get?". Because lots of technically foreign resident Lebanese had assembled in Beirut to wave flags and demand democracy and people power.
They got it too. 300,000 supporters of Hezbollah gathered under posters depicting Bush as "the beast" of Christian endtime, which really shows how sophisticated they are. It was quite a moment for them, previously their largest demonstrations had only counted a few thousands supporters..,
In that article and comments you may read back articles on Beirut indymedia - & come to your own conclusions as to why "who killed Hariri and why?" really was the Agatha Christie of 2005

.:. Dr Omar Sharif born in Egypt 1932 of Lebanese & Syrian parents - the only Muslim face Westerners were ever taught to trust +
.:. Dr Omar Sharif born in Egypt 1932 of Lebanese & Syrian parents - the only Muslim face Westerners were ever taught to trust +

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