The Suez Crisis Was it a colonial war? Was it a part of the Cold War? Was it a border war?
Border raids • A contentious issue with Jordan • Palestinian Arabs shot at • 1953 Qibiya massacre by Ariel Sharon’s unit 101 • 1+2 = 50 +15 + houses and property • Israel’s policy: disproportionate force to intimidate and deter • Similar situation on Israel-Egypt border
Charles.D.Smith Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal set in motion a series of events leading to a joint Israeli-French-British attack on Egypt. His action was not so much the cause of the aggression as the excuse for it. All had expressed before nationalization, separately or jointly, the desire to invade Egypt and destroy Nasser…. Ben Gurion was determined to attack preferably with French alliance or even without it. Nevertheless Israel was left out of discussions in the immediate aftermath of the nationalization because of British objections to their inclusions the French kept the Israelis involved
Charles Smith on Ben Gurion’s motives • Elimination of Nasser was his first priority • Partition of Jordan with the West bank going to Israel • Fixing of Israel’s borders with Lebanon • Suez canal would come under international control • The Straits of Tiran to come under Israeli conflict
Palestine Israel Conflict: Gregory Harms and Todd M. Ferry • According them the influence of the Cold War in Middle Eastern politics a key factor • There was a pronounced Anglo-American initiative to establish alliances as buffers to Soviet interest in the region • It was feared that the Arab states would turn to the USSR • Hence Baghdad Pact of 1955 • Members were Iraq, UK, US, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan ( northern axis to contain USSR)
Gregory Harms and Todd M. Ferry • Nasser was unwilling to co-operate in the arrangements. • He saw these pacts as attempts to sustain western control in the region • This conflicted with Nasser’s view on Pan Arab nationalism • Therefore he supported Algeria in its bid for independence from France • Had contempt for Israel as he saw it as an instance of western imperialism.
Nasser: the new leader • 1954 took over and President • Pan Arab outlook and anti colonialist • Arab world should become independent and free of foreign controls • It was right to topple regimes of countries under foreign rule • Dependent on the USA for aid but gradually relations soured over Lavon affair and US refusal to upgrade defenses for Egypt • Nasser plays a key role in Bandung Conference of 1955
Suez facts: • Suez Canal opened in1869( 99yr lease) • Britain and France were the major share holders in the Suez Canal company • Since 1882, Egypt and Canal zone under British military control • Britain the major share holder by 1955 • 1/3 or of all ships passing through were British
Significance of Suez Canal • Middle East provided 80% of Europe’s oil • 45% of that oil passed through the Suez • 1955 British made an agreement with Nasser only to withdraw military from bases around the Suez
Israel’s reaction • Did not want British withdrawal • Israeli leaders Ben Gurion saw it as a threat • Lavon affair.. Bombs set off in British and American embassies in Cairo and blame to be put on Egypt to force termination of the agreement • Lavon affair discovered Israel’s links established • Lavon affair not known by PM Moshe Sharett
Massacre at Gaza Feb 1955 • 11days after the discovery of the Lavon affair • Followed low level border conflicts • Fedayeen ( arab terrorists ) sponsored by Nasser • Nasser claimed this was necessary because of Israeli actions • Israel saw this as a threat to her existence
USSR and Nasser sign an arms pact • September 1955 • Arms deal with Czechoslovakia worth 400m • USSR basically had made inroads into the Middle East security cordon • Follows French and US refusal to help Egypt until it stopped supporting regime change in Northern Africa
USSR motives?( Ian J Bickerton) • A convenient way to embarrass and challenge the west and to outflank the NATO • USSR wanted a shift in the international balance of power • Initially Israel supported by the USSR • Israel support of USA in the Korean War soured relations • Russian attitude to anti semitism • US and Israel Defence pact sent USSR into an arms pact with Egypt.
Impact of USSR’s presence in the region • USSR and Syria sign an arms deal • Jordan and Cairo forced into a deal • Only Iraq remained within Baghdad Pact…but increasingly isolated
USA blocks funds • Even after arms deal, USA willing to supply Egypt with loans to build the massive Aswan dam project • Nasser initially not interested in US offer of help • Finally USA withdrew offer under intense domestic pressure and pressure from Nationalist China • Nasser decided to recognize Republic of China • USA cancelled loans • Egypt decided to nationalise the Suez canal
Why did France get involved in this war? • Anti colonial movements • Arms build up
The countdown to war : Sevres Conference 22nd -24th October 1956 • Sevres Protocol a secret document • Parties involved Israel, France and GB • Blue print for the attack drawn up • Israel to attack and move up to 16miles of the canal and force and Egyptian withdrawal • Egyptian refusal would lead to UK and France involvement
The attack…. • 100,000 Israeli troops mobilized and attacked across the Sinai • Halted 10 kms away from Suez canal • Israeli attack unopposed as Egypt was taken by surprise. • British planes from Cyprus attacked the oilfields. Nasser had to withdraw troops from the Sinai to protect the oilfields. • Rout by Israel of Egyptian troops
Egypt refused British-French orders to withdraw from Canal Zone • GB and Fr. Responded with air attacks on positions in the Suez zone • GB called upon population of Egypt to overthrow Nasser • By joining the attack British and French neutrality a clear sham
Role of the UN • Matter discussed at the UN on the 30th of October • UK and France vetoed resolution calling for ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops • Invasion continued. By 5th November Israel in control of most of the area up to Port Said • British landed troops in Port Suez
USSR & USA • USSR threat to use force brought the campaign to a halt, if the Israelis did not withdraw and GB failed to cease operations • US furious at not being consulted. US did not like Nasser but did not agree with Brit-French action • US condemned the action as well and threatened to cancel subsidies worth 1m USD to GB
Britain • For Britain it was a humiliating climb down • Eden the British PM had clearly underestimated Arab solidarity • Led to Eden’s resignation in Jan 1957
Outcome of the war What were the Results of the Suez Crisis?
Israel • Upset USA which threatened to impose sanctions • Even threatened to expel Israel from the UN for its adventurism • Demanded Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai • Israel lost a total of 231 troops in all • Held the Gaza strip and gained control of Sharm-al Shaikh the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba
USA • Its plots in the region were pre-empted by the war • WAS able to enforce its will on the crisis and effect the withdrawal of the UK , France and Israel • Proclamation of the Eisenhower Doctrine in Jan 1957 • March 1957 the USA joins the Baghdad Pact