Table of Contents
The majority of Palestinian and Israeli leaders considered Israel and Suez Crisis of 1956 as the one affecting the vital needs and values for the existence and survival of the nation. The Arab-Israeli conflict and the war of 1956, as a manifestation of the conflict, have become one of such collisions. This conflict, as well as many other regional ones, has turned into a military confrontation. Important political figures have always been focused on all aspects of this struggle, such as: the development of military equipment and its testing as well as advanced methods of modern warfare, proximity to the area of conflict to world oil production centers and communications, and to the strategic, political, economic and religious values. Consequently, the Arab-Israeli conflict was a tragedy for all parties involved. This paper discusses the reasons and consequences of Israel and Suez Crisis of 1956.
The Interests and Objectives of the Crisis
Both London and Paris were inclined to military intervention to Egypt. The French leaders saw in the Egyptian President Nasser a threat to their positions in North Africa. The French government wanted to pacify Nasser and reclaim the channel that Lesseps built on French money. They have already started consultations with the Israelis, who had their own reasons to attack Nasser. The study asserted that the Egyptian President stepped up arms, clearly preparing for war against Israel (Ovendale, 2015). He organized guerrilla raids into Israel and established the blockade of Israel’s southern port that ultimately was the unfriendly act.
The British party has expressed special concern about Suez Canal because of oil that made it a vital artery. Oil possession of Great Britain in the Middle East was an essential part of all of its foreign income. Their loss would be an irreparable blow to their economy. The British prestige would be undermined in case they lost the channel. The British were afraid that Nasser could refuse the Western Europe to supply oil, and then, they would be in his power. Meanwhile, the main policy of the United Kingdom and France has become very skeptical about the prospects for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, for which negotiations have focused United Nations (Bottaro, 2012). They concluded that only military force could affect Nasser and stop him.
The Use of Force
On October 24, 1956, diplomatic and military representatives of the UK and France, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, met secretly at the villa in Sevres near Paris with the senior management of the delegation of Israel (Roberts, 2014). Three states have come to an understanding that Israel in response to threats and military pressure will cause the Egyptian military strike on Sinai Peninsula in the direction of the Suez Canal (Smith, 2013). Britain and France put forward an ultimatum demanding of the channel’s protection, and then if the struggle will continue to invade the Canal Zone for the protection of an international waterway. The ultimate goal of the British and French was to create a base in the Canal Zone and overthrow Nasser during the operation.
According to Bottaro (2012), there were closer understandings between Israel and France than between Israel and the UK that ingrained hostility to Israel and the Jews. One of the reasons that the French took over the responsibility to involve Israel to the Anglo-French agreement was the desire to prevent a clash between Britain and Israel on the Jordanian front (Ovendale, 2015). In October 1951, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey have offered the Arab countries and Israel to participate in the Middle East Command for the joint defense of the Middle East (Roberts, 2014). Located outside of the great powers of the region, they, primarily, pursued their own interests here. Admittedly, small Middle Eastern countries have never been an obedient executor of their will. This statement applied above all to Israel, which still does not allow the United States to prescribe it to the line of conduct of vital issues.
The leader of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, sought to create a strong state with a well-equipped army. The dream of an independent, effective, and well-armed military forces existed in Egypt since the days of the humiliating defeat of Muhammad Ali in the middle of the 19th century (Nichols, 2012). In July 1956, Nasser gave the order for the nationalization of the Suez Canal (Bottaro, 2012). In London and Paris, it was decided to re-occupy the area of the Suez Canal and overthrow Nasser. The literature reveals that on October 29, 1956, the Israeli troops invaded and occupied the Sinai. On the next day, the Great Britain and France sent an ultimatum, demanding to withdraw the military troops from the channel (Smith, 2013). Afterwards, the Anglo-French aircraft bombed the Canal Zone, Cairo, and Alexandria.
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It happened because the British government wanted to get full control over the channel. The Egyptians, who could not wait to get rid of them, conducted a campaign against the British, including acts of terrorism, murder, and kidnapping. Under the U.S. pressure, Great Britain and France withdrew their troops from the combat zone, and Israel stopped military actions against Egypt. In the following months, they withdrew their military forces from Sinai and the Gaza Strip. The Nasser regime, in spite of the military defeat, has survived, and the Nasser even strengthened his influence in the Arab world. According to Nichols (2012), the only win for Israel in this war was the opening of the Straits of Tiran to shipping and the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops in the Sinai Peninsula up until 1967, following the Arab-Israeli War.
In 1956, the Israeli side showed that its opponents have the ability to conduct more flexible and effective policies. The outside Israel’s policy has been changed several times under the influence of changes in the region and the world. Ovendale (2015) assumed that the refugee problem was not only hindered the establishment of peace in the Middle East but also threatened the stability of those Arab countries that host them. On January 5, 1957, the U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered a special message to Congress, called “Eisenhower Doctrine” in which he insisted giving him authority to assist countries in the military and economic aid in the region (Roberts, 2014).
The Consequences of the Crisis
During this crisis, the United States focused on trying to maintain its position among the Arab oil producers. Eisenhower emphasized the conversion of King Saud in the main figure of the Middle East as an alternative to Nasser (Nichols, 2012). The United States intended to work towards the recovery of the Middle East oil markets in Western Europe. Underlying this consideration was also the desire to maintain a stable, pro-Western government as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism. The military operation against Egypt was another failure of Middle Eastern policy for France and the UK. Therefore, the English domination in the Middle East was over (Nichols, 2012).
Israel and Suez Crisis of 1956 put an end to the Anglo-French domination in the Middle East. The defeat of the Anglo-French forces in Egypt was a symbolic indicator of the end of this era, leaving the United States to inherit this vast colonial system. The political victory of Egypt in the war in 1956 had a negative impact on Israel. The Egyptian President, who was able to resist the tripartite aggression, has become one of the most popular politicians in the Arab world.
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Israel and Suez Crisis of 1956 had changed the parity in this region. This conflict turned into a military confrontation between the countries that uphold different political, economic and religious values, and it was a great tragedy for all parties involved. It has fomented tension in this region.