Essay Egypt Crisis

Following the Japanese surprise attack on the Russian Pacific Fleet based at Port Arthur, the Russians sent reinforcements from their fleet in the Baltic Sea.

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With the 1882 invasion and occupation of Egypt, the United Kingdom took de facto control of the country as well as the canal proper, and its finances and operations.

The 1888 Convention of Constantinople declared the canal a neutral zone under British protection.

Britain's military strength was spread throughout the region, including the vast military complex at Suez with a garrison of some 80,000, making it one of the largest military installations in the world.

The Suez base was considered an important part of Britain's strategic position in the Middle East; however, increasingly it became a source of growing tension in Anglo-Egyptian relations.

After the fighting had started, political pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations led to a withdrawal by the three invaders.

Essay Egypt Crisis

The episode humiliated the United Kingdom and France and strengthened Nasser. Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to cease fire, which was ignored.On 5 November, Britain and France landed paratroopers along the Suez Canal.The Egyptian forces were defeated, but they did block the canal to all shipping.The economic potential of the Middle East, with its vast oil reserves, as well as the Suez Canal's geo-strategic importance against the background of the Cold War, prompted Britain to consolidate and strengthen its position there.The kingdoms of Egypt and Iraq were seen as vital to maintaining strong British influence in the region.Petroleum business historian Daniel Yergin wrote of the period: "In 1948, the canal abruptly lost its traditional rationale. [British] control over the canal could no longer be preserved on grounds that it was critical to the defence either of India or of an empire that was being liquidated.And yet, at exactly the same moment, the canal was gaining a new role—as the highway not of empire, but of oil. By 1955, petroleum accounted for half of the canal's traffic, and, in turn, two thirds of Europe's oil passed through it".At the time, Western Europe imported two million barrels per day from the Middle East, 1,200,000 by tanker through the canal, and another 800,000 via pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, where tankers received it.The US imported another 300,000 barrels daily from the Middle East.Heavy political pressure from the United States and the USSR led to a withdrawal. The Suez Canal was closed from October 1956 until March 1957.Israel fulfilled some of its objectives, such as attaining freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran, which Egypt had blocked to Israeli shipping since 1950.


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