- The Isthmus of Suez, Egypt has always been a link connecting three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. This strategic location enabled Egypt to become one of the world’s highways; the gateway to East, a statement reinforced by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
- The construction of the Suez Canal was a great landmark in the history of communications. By connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, it cut off half the distance by water from Europe to the East… Three of every four vessels passing through the canal flew the British flag, and as it was the shortest route to India it naturally evoked a desire in England to participate in its management. In 1875 the canal was converted from Franco-Egyptian to Franco-British ownership.
- The importance of the canal was amplified during the Suez Crisis in 1956, as Egyptian president, Abdul Nasser nationalized the canal company on July 26 1956 forbidding passage of British and French goods. Mostly Petroleum.
- The Suez Crisis began on 26 July 1956, when, following the United States’ decision to withdraw its offer of a grant to aid the construction of Egypt’s Aswan High Dam, as they realized Egypt was steadily growing ties with the SU and Communist Czechoslovakia. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and thus British and French gov’t began a secret invasion of Egypt in mid October 1956.
- The Suez Crisis increased in intensity on the afternoon of 5 November 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.
- Egypt had been supplied with arms to combat by the Soviet Union thus indicating that the SU’s speher of influence had spread to the Middle East.
- The Eisenhower Doctrine was created as a response to the Crisis on January 5 1957. Under this Doctrine, a nation could request American economic aid or aid from US military forces if it was being threatened by armed aggression from another state.
- The Doctrine was made as US felt threatened that the SU is attempting to start a generalized war using the Suez Crisis as a pretext.
- The Crisis also marked the beginning of the end of British and French colonial power.
“Those who attack Egypt will never leave Egypt alive. We shall fight a regular war, a total war, a guerrilla war. Those who attack Egypt will soon realize they brought disaster upon themselves. He who attacks Egypt attacks tile whole Arab world. They say in their papers the -whole thing will be over in forty-eight hours. They do not know how strong we really are.
– Egyptian President/dictator Colonel Gamal abd an-Nasser, September 15, 1956, in a speech denouncing the creation of a Canal User’s Association