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Index / Political / Modern Wars /
Suez-Sinai War



Suez-Sinai War, 1956

Suez-Sinai War, 1956

Map of the Suez-Sinai War, 1956

War fought between Egypt on one side, and Israel, Britain and France on the other. The background for the war were disputes over rights of control over the traffic passing through the Suez Canal, who was to own the canal as well as the continued clashes between Israel and Egypt that had occurred in all the years that had followed since the end of the First Palestinian War in 1949.
The war had serious impact on the moral and political strength of the nations involved. Britain and France achieved nothing but to prove their lack of political insight and maturity, as their actions nearly provoked more countries to enter into a big scale war. Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser rose to star status, as Egypt achieved all of its initial goals, despite the losses on the battle field. This war also became the start of USA's leading position as mediator in the Middle East, a position the country held up until early 1990's.
No war indemnities have ever been paid to Egypt by the aggressors.

History
1956 July 26: President Nasser of Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal, and all of its assets. This as a response to Western unwillingness to help in financing the building of the new Aswan High Dam. The act of taking over control of the Suez Canal is made possible by the fact that British troops had been pulled out of the region more than 5 weeks earlier. Britain and France, the stock holders in the canal, respond to the nationalization with sending military vessels to the Mediterranean Sea.
August 23: A proposal from Britain and France to have the canal administered by a company owned by all the countries that use the canal, is rejected by the Egyptians.
October 29: Israel attacks Egypt, with French reinforcements, and in less than 4 days, they reach the Suez Canal. The Israeli invasion is a reaction to a declaration that the armies of Jordan and Syria were set under joint commando of the Egyptian army commander in chief. It appears likely that Israel hoped that the Soviet invasion of Hungary in Europe would reduce the media attention on their own aggressions.
October 30: Britain and France presents both Israel and Egypt with an ultimatum of seizing military actions, and withdrawal of 16 km from the canal zone. When Egypt does not accept to withdraw from their own sovereign territory, Britain and France claim to have an excuse to attack Egypt.
October 31: British and French troops, stationed on Cyprus, start bombing Egyptian air strips in an attempt to eliminate the Egyptian air force. But Egypt has moved their air planes away from all air strips. The British and French intervention is sharply condemned by USA and the Soviet Union in the general assembly of the UN.
November 5: Britain and France invades Egypt, with 7,000 troops, and get quickly control over the northern canal zone. Strong condemnation and threats comes from the Soviet Union against Britain and France. A Soviet intervention is much anticipated in Egyptian media, as Egyptian troops have faced serious defeats.
November 7: Fightings end from British/French side.
November 21: Facing the threat of an international war, Britain and France give in. UN troops land in Port Said. Britain and France have been given one month to withdraw. At this stage Egypt has won all of its initial goals, and international shipping is for a long time harmed by the about 40 ship wrecks lying in the Suez Canal, and which prevents most other ships from passing.
1957 March 8: Israel withdraws their last troops from Sinai and Gaza Strip. UN forces are installed to secure peace.




By Tore Kjeilen