Egypt Under Nasser, Suez Crisis
Gulf of Aqaba, Sinai Peninsula, canal company, Suez Canal, cease-fire
The takeover of the canal company infuriated the British, for whom the Suez Canal was a vital waterway. It also angered the French, who had built and managed the canal. Both governments threatened to force Nasser to relinquish the canal, despite the U.S. governmentís opposition to military action. After diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis failed, Britain and France entered into a secret alliance with Israel, which was already considering military action against Egypt. Egypt had refused to allow Israel to use the Suez Canal and since 1951 had blocked Israelís access to the Red Sea from its port of Elat through the Egyptian-controlled Strait of Tiran, which lies at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba. Furthermore, Egypt was sponsoring Palestinian raids into Israeli territory.
Israel attacked Egypt in October 1956 and soon captured the Gaza Strip and most of the Sinai Peninsula, while Britain and France invaded Port Said and began occupying the canal zone. Within a week, however, the United Nations, at the urging of both the USSR and the United States, demanded a cease-fire, forcing Britain, France, and Israel to withdraw from the lands they had captured.
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