Warfare Suez War 1956, the invasion of Port Said brought "Wind of Change" to Anglo-French Colonialism

Dr.Yahia Al Shaer

Mi Sergeant
MI.Net Member
Sep 14, 2020
Operation Musketeer..!!!..
The Tripartite 1956 Attack.and the rise of Nasser..

Suez War 1956, the invasion of Port Said
brought "Wind of Change" to Anglo-French Colonialism

By Yahia Al Shaer

Photo of Operation Map , from Suez, The Seven Days War

General Assault Operations Map 1

Photo of late President Nasser

President Gamal Abdel Nasser

Their aim....was to get rid of him

..!!!..The Tripartite 1956 Attack.and the rise of Nasser..

It all began, because of Nasser's will to buy weapons for his weakend army and to build the High Dam for the poor Egyptian farmers. All that had forced him to nationalize the Anglo-French Suez Canal Company to ensure a higher revenue for the national economy to be able to pay back the urgently needed debt to the IMF Bank.

The Egyptian regime headed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser had set its heart on the building of a giant dam on the Nile near Aswan. By increasing cultivated area by 30 per cent, providing year-to-year water storage to prevent drought and flooding, and enormously increasing the hydroelectricity supply, this would form the cornerstone of Egypt’s development program.

In February 1956 a provisional agreement was reached whereby the World Bank would loan $200 million on condition that the United States and Britain loaned another $70 million to pay the hard-currency costs. The USA and Britain imposed conditions that Nasser found difficult, since they involved some Western control over Egyptian economy.

When Nasser made up his mind to accept, however, the USA abruptly announced that the offer was being withdrawn, because Egypt’s economy was too unstable for so large a scheme.

The USA and Britain believed that, even if Nasser did not fall from power, he would become more pliable and flexible. They were not convinced that the Soviet Union would make good its hints that it was prepared to finance the dam.

Not only this, but USA and Britain were surprised and outraged when President Gamal Abdel Nasser chose the fourth anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution, 26 July 1956, to announce to a huge cheering crowd in Manshia, Alexandria and, via Cairo Radio, to the rest of the Arab World that he was nationalizing the Suez Canal Company and creating the an Egyptian Canal Authority to manage the Canal.

The entire Third World was thrilled and delighted. There existed no potent symbol of Western colonial domination and a legend of the Western imperialism and hegemony more than the Suez Canal. But there was worry about the consequences; the West would surely not allow Nasser to succeed.

Three months of negotiations in London and New York followed where Robert Menzies, Prime Minster of Australia, headed meetings including Eden of Britain and Mollet of France, in which Britain took the lead in trying to enforce some international control of the Canal. They failed largely because the US Eisenhower/Dulles administration refused to consider the use of military force to coerce Egypt.

But Nasser saw the development of an Anglo-French maneuver and that Menzies had little intention of negotiations, and the mission failed. Worried by the increased belligerent view of his major European allies, Dulles now took up the running urging the formation of a Suez Canal User’s Association (SCUA), but Nasser was by then increasingly angered at the attempts of others to arrange the future of the Canal without negotiating with Egypt, and he swiftly aborted the proposal. At the same time, the British and French governments were determined to use force behind the back of the Americans.

The secret Franco-Israeli alliance devised a plan for a joint invasion of Egypt with Britain. There has been a growing frustration among the hawks in the Israeli government headed by Ben Gurion where they were looking for an opportunity to strike at what they identified as a growing potential threat from revolutionary Egypt, as well as a chance to take Sharm el-Shiekh on the Red Sea, from where Egypt blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba preventing free movement of shipping to the Israeli port of Eilat.

For France, the issue was not just the Canal but Nasser’s promotion of Arab Nationalism, in particular the aid and encouragement he was giving to the nationalist FLN in its growing struggle in Algeria, shich both the colons and the French government were determined to crush.

A move against Egypt that aimed to bring down President Gamal Abdel Nasser would, Guy Mollet believed, ensure the end of the FLN threat in Algeria. It was at these meetings that a plan was reached that if Israel struck not just Gaza and Sharm el-Shiekh, but towards the Canal itself, then France and Britain could intervene to ‘save’ the Canal. Eden finally agreed to this, with only one fear that British interests in the Arab World might be disastrously affected.

On 29 October 1956 Israel invaded Sinai, and on the following day Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum calling on Egypt and Israel to cease fighting and to withdraw their forces ten miles from the Canal. Israel, as a part of the plan, accepted the ultimatum, although its forces were still much more than ten miles from the Canal. Nasser rejected it and ordered his troops in Sinai that were suffering heavy losses to return across the Canal to the east bank.

When the ultimatum expired on 31 October, British and French planes began bombing Egyptian airfields, destroying almost the entire Egyptian air force except for those planes that has been sent to Syria for safety. On 5 November, an Anglo-French force in Cyprus, landed near Port Said and captured the city after a fierce resistance. Then they advanced southwards along the line of the Canal, which the Egyptians had already blocked with sunken shipping.

World opinion was overwhelmingly hostile to the tripartite invasion. The threatened break-up of the British Commonwealth, Soviet strong warnings, and especially the opposition in the United States, which refused to provide help and to relieve the alarming drain in the Sterling, all contributed to Britain’s decision to halt its Suez action. The UN General Assembly decided on 4 November to create a UN Emergency Force (UNEF) to supervise the cease-fire it was calling for and which Britain and France accepted on 6 November. Israel surely could not continue alone.

Britain and France had made to major miscalculations: first was that the Egyptians would be incapable of managing the Suez Canal on their own, and the other was that as soon as hostilities began there would be an uprising against Nasser.

In fact after the Nationalization the Egyptians showed that they could manage the Canal efficiently, and even more Nasser’s popularity in Egypt and among Arabs elsewhere reached new heights.

Egypt suffered military defeat against overwhelming force but scored an almost total diplomatic victory.

President Gamal Abdel Nasser had successfully nationalized the Suez Canal, and insisted that it could not be reopened until the invading forces leave. He had not only survived an attack intended to overthrow him personally, but had greatly strengthened his own position in Egypt by his cool command throughout, first politically then militarily. He had also won acclaim in the Arab World for having successfully seem off the two powers that dominated the region for many decades.

An angry president Eisenhower compelled the Israelis to withdraw from Sinai and Gaza early in 1957, leaving Egypt in full control of the Canal and the British military stores. With US assistance the Canal was cleared and reopened in April 1957. All the British and French property in Egypt was sequestered. About 3,000 British and French nationals were expelled, and more thousands decided to leave. Britain and France attempted to retaliate by imposing an economic blockade of Egypt, but the gesture was ineffective.

Nasser had risen as the champion of pan-Arabism against the attempted reassertion of past Western domination.

The Arab World had long been waiting and prepared to acclaim an outstanding and successful personality, and Nasser had proved himself on both counts. Nasser’s political victory over Britain and France had been attained partly as a result of the attitudes of the Soviet Union and the USA through their opposition of the attack on Egypt.

The consequences were far greater for Nasser than any of the involved in the Suez crisis thought likely when President Gamal Abdel Nasser first took the move that seemed to him to be a vital step in his aim of attaining full independence of Egypt. Initially the seizure of the Canal was to help pay for the High Dam, and the High Dam was a vital part of the transformation of Egypt. Finally, Nasser’s action was to have repercussions in Egypt, the Middle East and world politics, and make hm a major international figure.

The Political impacts of the 1956 Suez Crisis and Port Said Invasion
upon the British Empire

"...Britain had lost an Empire but had not yet found a role..."

Dean Acheson, former US Secretary of State

The "Wind of Change"

Meanwhile, in the Empire ...or Commonwealth ... On 3 February 1960 Macmillan addressed the members of both houses of the South African parliament in Cape Town. The address is most commonly referred to as the "Wind of Change" speech.

Macmillan acknowledged the need to respond to the growing nationalist forces in Africa and elsewhere.

The 1960s saw a rapid withdrawal from empire. There had already been a "first wave" of decolonisation in 1947, when India (and Pakistan) had been granted independence. , Ceylon and Burma followed in 1948.

In 1957, Ghana became independent (formerly Gold Coast). The process was seen as an enlightened success.

The Malay states also became independent. Britain was fighting a war in Malaya against communist insurgents in what was known as the "Malayan Emergency", 1948 to 1960

There had also been trouble in Kenya, with the "Mau-Mau" uprising of 1952, which was savagely repressed by the British (though the extent to which this is true has only recently become widely appreciated).

In 1960 British Somaliland and Nigeria became independent.

The following year (1961) Sierra Leone, Tanganyika and British Cameroons became independent;

South Africa left the Commonwealth; Saudis took over defence of Kuwait from Britain

In 1962 Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Western Samoa all became independent. It was also at the end of 1962 that Dean Acheson, the former American Secretary of State, made a speech at West Point at which he said that Britain had lost an Empire but had not yet found a role. What he meant was that Britain should play a closer role in Europe ...

In 1963, Kenya and Zanzibar became independent.

In 1964, Northern Rhodesia became Zambia; Nyasaland became independent as Malawi; Malta became independent.

In 1965, Rhodesia (formerly Southern Rhodesia) made a "Unilateral Declaration of Independence" (UDI).

In 1966, Botswana, Lesotho and Gambia all gain independence

In 1967, Aden became independent.

In 1968, Mauritius and Swaziland.

In 1970, Fiji and Tonga.

In 1973, the Bahamas.

In 1974, Grenada.

In 1975, Papua New Guinea

In 1976, the Seychelles became independent;

In 1978 Dominica, in 1979 the Gilbert Islands,

In 1980 the New Hebrides,

In 1981 Belize,

In 1984 Brunei ...

and in in 1997, Hong Kong.

Nasser's Nationalization Speech 26. July 1956

Nasser's Movies

Photo from Secrets of Suez by Sergje and M. Blumberger

Abbasi Mosque on Tuesday 6 November 1965


For those, to remember their fallen comerades
any time and everywhere

BBC documentary on the 1956 Suez War.
It shows the real causes of the tripartite attack on Egypt
and how history repeats itself

De Lespps Statue now

Graphic by Yahia

Graphic by Yahia
Graphic by Yahia

Graphic by Yahia

Port Said Flag

The City on two continents


Dr. Yahia Al Shaer
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