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The Suez Canal Crisis And Its Effects

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The essay investigates why the Crisis was a turning point for British and French guidelines in the Middle East, and how the rising influence of the Soviet Union and the United States infiltrated into the Middle East, resulting in a new front in the Cold War. In the first two paragraphs of the essay, background information is given on the British and French position in the Middle East before the crisis is set in motion. The importance of the Suez Canal itself is also examined. The decisiveness that the United States, the Soviet Union and the UN demonstrated in bringing the crisis to an end is the second part of the essay. The authority shown by these countries and organization serves to outline the thinning power and control of Great Britain and France, and the rise of power and influence of the United States and Soviet Union. The essay then examines the political roles of Britain and France during the crisis, and in particular how they were a sign of military weakness and political awareness. The weakness of Britain and France are further explored through the analysis of the rise of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism after Nasser's triumph over the Anglo-French and Israeli forces. An explanation of the United States and Soviet Union's appeal in the Middle East follows. An analysis of Nasser's appeal in Africa and how the Soviet Union desired to enter the Middle East in order to pierce into Africa. The conclusion is then reached that: The Suez crisis was further proof that influence in the Middle East, whether by France, Britain, then Soviet Union or the United States, would be important for establishing or maintaining a worldwide superpower standing.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the imperial status of France and Britain was fading. The independence of India, the French Algerian war and the French war in Indochina marked the decadence of the French and British Empires. The Suez Canal Crisis of 1956 was evidence that Britain and France were incapable of upholding their imperial rule. The Suez Canal was the most critical waterway for Britain in its vital trade with Asia and pacticualrly for the transport of oil. The Canal Company responsible for the running of the Canal was a joint Anglo-French venture. The campaign's headquarters were located in paris and shareholdings were quotes in the British and French stock markets. In 1956 the newly appointed Egyptian leader's decision to nationalize the Canal angered both the French and British and culminated in what is presently known as the Suez Canal crisis, a crisis that has been judges as embarrassing for both Britain and France. With the start of the war between Egypt and Israel in 1956, Anglo- British forces intiated an amphibious invasion of Egypt, on the grounds that they were protecting the Suez Canal from the warring states. When it became evident that there was military collusion between the Israeli forces and the Anglo French forces, there was international condemnation of the campaign and its imperial nature. What did the conduct of France and Britain during the Crisis outline about France and Britain's imperial status in the Middle East and did it lead to the rise of superpower hegemony in the Middle East? The Suez Canal crisis of 1956 was further proff that Britain and France had lost their European superpower status consequently marking the advent of the United States and the Soviet Union as superpowers within the Middle East. The manner in which the UN dealt with the crisis strongly implies that there was sufficient power and international cooperation to resolve world disputes. Nasser's triumph became a source of inspiration for Arab Nationalists and for rebel leaders in "Black" Africa.

The Suez Canal's size and particularly favorable geographic location established it as a valuable waterway for Europe, largely due to the West's dependence on the oil originating from the Middle East. It was a major target for Rommel's forces during the Second World War and Britain and France were determined to honor the pride and sacrifice associated with the Canal. ON 1952 Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser Came to power in a coup d'etat that overthrew King Farouk, Nasser's economic policy and Arab Nationalism undermined Egypt's relations with the West and attracted the attention of the Soviet Union. His decision to nationalize the Suez Canal was an important step towards established Egyptian independence, the repercussions of which were dramatic on Arab states in the Middle East. Nasser boldly defied France and Britain and his subsequent victory characterized him as an icon in the Arab world so much that Arabs relied heavily upon him during their pursuit for unity and independenc from the West. The British position in the Middle East was relatively stable before the crisis largely due to the security pact between Britain and Jordan as well as the Baghdad pact of 1955, both of which were evidence of Britain's "friendly" relationship with Arab States in the Middle East. France's hostile relations with the Arab world, due to the Algerian War, became even more pronounced by the Suez campaign. The campaign destroyed the friendly ties that existed between France and the Arab world. The economic and military disadvantages experienced in the region were the primary reasons the Soviet Union was able to successfully reach arms deals with Arab states. The United State's relationship with Israel determined its alignment in the Middle East. The defiance Nasser demonstrated towards rge West was if Insppiration to both Arabs as well as Africans. The triumph of Egypt over the Anglo- French forces became an influence for other African and Arab developing states who sought to gain independence. It was therefore a crisis, which played an important role in the decolonization of Africa. The Suez crisis thus marked the fall of imperial world rule of Britain and Frnace and the advent of the Superpower era.

There is sufficient evidence suggesting that the Soviet Union and the United States played a decisive role in the crisis. The threats made against the Anglo-French alliance by Soviet foreign minister Nikolai Bulganin and Esienhower's disapproval, were the main factors that brought an end to the Anglo- French advance. The Anglo-French alliance with Israel was evidence of their desperate need for an ally as well as their relative military weaknesses. A wave of anti-Western sentiment spread throughout the Middle East, the outcome being a new sphere of influence for the Soviet Union. As a result, the Middle East became a new front for the Cold War. America's withdrawl of funds from the Aswan Dam project, due to an alleged arms deal between Nasser and Czechoslovakia, was considered one of the major causes of the Suez crisis. The withdrawl of one of which was nationalizing the Canal. Nasser's policy of non-alignment proved to be impossible to maintain. He was the victim of much dislike in both France and England because he was the main voice of Arab nationalism and because of suspicions that he had approved the sending of military aid to Algerian rebels. In order to build a strong Egyptian Army, to achieve his utopian dream of united Arab empire, Nasser needed to make an arms deal. France and Britain were reluctant to assist. The Tripartite Declaration of 1950 and the pro- Israeli lobby determined the United States' refusal to make deals with Egypt. During the International Condemnation which took place during the Anglo-French military campaign, the USSR and the US were instrumental in bringing about an ened to the Suez Crisis. On November 5, 1956 the Soviet Premier Bulganin sent notes of condemnation to Eden, Mollet and Ben Gurion (leaders of Britain, France and Israeal respectively) threatening to use action by the use of 'every kind of modern destructive weapon'. Under the NATO alliance, if the Soviet Union, were to attack the Anglo-French forces America would have to intervene. It was unclear, however, if this "accord" also applied to extra European conflicts. The British and French both knew that if the US was aware of their plans to invade Egypt America's disapproval would be critical.It is for this reason that Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French invasion plan, was delayed in order to coincide with the American elections. The pro-Israeli vote in America would be against Eisenhower, if he decided to intervene. The role played by the USSR and the US demonstrated their new status in the Middle East and also served as the orelude for their alliances in the region. The rather concillatory role of the United States depicted its sympathy towards Israel and the Soviet Union's strong indignation and use of violent rhetoric was a clear indication of its alliances with Arab states. The Six-Day War which followed soon thereafter portrayed the USSR and the US playing even more important roles.

During the Suez Canal crisis the United Nations had shown its effectiveness in eding international disputes. The UN cease-fire resolution, drafted by UN Secretary General, Hammarskjold was accepted and made effective in the Security Council. The UN vote during the crisis for the resolution, 64-5 was evidence of Britain and france's diplomatic isolation. The UN Peace Corps were deployed for the first time to safeguard the canal zone. It prved its strengthin solving international disputes with the first deployment of International Peacekeeping forces in the Sinai Peninsula. Israeal retreated back to its "natural" frontiers and the Anglo British forces gae way to the Internation peace Corps. The UN gained control of the anal zone and the gulf of Akaba after the crisis and intiated oil rationinf for Britain. The UN demonstrated that the imperial technique of carrying out campaigns with or eithout the consensus of the world was impossible. There now appeared an organization able to counter the imperial rule of Britain and France not through the use of force but by the use of international law, majority world opinion and economic sanctions.


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