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A Truly Independent Egypt
A Truly Free and Independent Egypt At Last
In order to finance the construction of the dam, Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal in order to be able to channel its revenues towards the dam. The West was immensely upset by this move, as they were heavily dependent on the canal for oil supplies and for shipping. They began to regard Nasser as a 'threat to their remaining interests in the Middle East and Africa'. The British Prime Minister wanted to resort to military force on Egypt but was informed by his ministers who stated that it was unable to invade at that point of time. France and Egypt froze their assets in Egypt and increased their military stance in the Middle East. Egypt promised to compensate the stockholders of the Suez Canal Company, which was the former owner of the canal, and guaranteed right of access to all ships, therefore, the British and French were unable to garner international support to reclaim the canal by force. The Soviet Union, its East European allies and the Third World countries were in favour of Egypt. The United States then stated its stand against the use of force.
In 1956 however, Egypt was jointly invaded by Britain, France and Israel in the Tripartite Invasion. Britain used Israel as an excuse to attack Egypt together with France. The Egyptian air force was destroyed by Britain. Egypt fought a losing battle against the invaders, despite fighting fiercely and devised means and ways to slow down their invaders' advance and takeover of the Canal. Many lost their lives. However, the world came together to show disapproval against the invaders. Britain and France were threatened by the Soviet Union to withdraw or else face a possible missile attack, most likely nuclear missiles. The United States were unhappy to be kept in the dark of the invasion's plans and pressurised them to withdraw. Faced with opposition from virtually the whole world and together with many other threats and disadvantages, Britain and France accepted a cease-fire on November 6, and evacuated finally on December 22. The Israelis also eventually withdrew with much pressure from US President Eisenhower, but they did it with much resentment and destroyed the landscape on their way back.
A United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was established on the Egyptian side of the Egyptian-Israeli border as well as along the eastern coast of Sinai, as Israel refused to allow UN troops on its territory. The UN troops helped to ensure the free passage of Israeli shipping to Elat and left only in 1967. Egypt re-opened the canal to shipping in April and did so smoothly. Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Britain were only re-established in 1969.
Nasser, despite losing in the war, had triumphed in a great moral victory. He had also finally ousted Britain and France from Egypt totally. Egypt now ruled itself completely and independently. As a result, Nasser became a hero in the Arab world for resisting bending to his colonial masters' (the Western powers) wills and wishes and succeeding.
Egypt, for so long under British rule and influence, was finally free.
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