EFFECTS OF THE SUEZ CANAL CRISIS 1956

EFFECTS OF THE SUEZ CANAL CRISIS 1956

  • Many Egyptians lost their lives including over 300 soldiers, vast quantities of equipment destroyed and property damaged.




  • The crisis was a diplomatic, political and moral victory for Egypt, the peace terms compelled Britain to flee out of Egypt hence the full control of the canal went into the hands of the Egyptians.
  • Total independence was realized such that by January 1957 she was free at last from the excessive influence of the western European powers, she thus achieved total political, social and economic independence.
  • The diplomatic victory elevated Nasser’s stature both in Egypt and in the Arab world. He became the leading defender of the Arab interests against imperialism. Egypt then became a centre of Arab nationalism and Nasser became a hero to be worshipped. Nasserism became the order of the day which involved Nationalism and Islamic principles.




  • When Egypt emerged victorious, Cairo was seen by Africans as a centre for African nationalism agitation. It attracted political parties like UNC of Uganda and allowed the establishment of headquarters by Liberation movements like MPLA of Angola and FLN of Algeria. The canal war accelerated the struggle for the liberation of Africa for it gave the decolonization effort a new face and Africans were convinced that if Egypt could defeat Britain and France the major colonial powers so other African states could do the same.
  • From 1956 on wards Nasser intensified his support for African states that had not got their independence. He joined the Casablanca group which was very radical in demanding for African independence. He extended moral, financial and military support to all Africans in the struggle for independence. It can therefore be argued that his decolonization effort for the whole African continent was given momentum after he defeated the British and French plus the Israelites in the Suez Canal.
  • Egypt now became a strong voice on the international forum in the condemnation against imperialism and Nasser was always given a platform in the UN General Assembly and was able to expose the evils of colonialism thereby attracting international sympathy, the result of which was that most African states were in position to get independence in the 1960s and 1970s.




  • The canal crisis acted as the last blow to the French colonialism because since the year 1957 the French started to grant independence to their colonies forexample, in French West Africa in 1958 the French organized referendum in its colonies in which they opted to do away with colonial rule. It is then that countries like Guinea Conakry under Seku Toure and Ivory Coast attained their independence.
  • The canal crisis provided the background of sowing seeds of resentment in the whole of Africa. Most Africans then copied the example of Egypt for the desire to determine their fate against colonialism and neo-colonialism. Therefore it can be argued that the canal crisis quickened the pace of event in demanding for independence.
  • The Africans now questioned the ability of Britain and France to protect them after the canal crisis. Many third world countries turned away to USA and USSR or even Egypt for protection and this explains why most African countries adopted socialism immediately after independence. A case in point is Tanzania under Nyerere, Algeria under Ben Bella among others and this oiled up cold war politics in Africa.
  • The crisis resulted into change in leadership both in Britain and France because public opinion had opposed military intervention in the Suez Canal. As a result Anthony Eden in Britain failed and in 1958 in France Charles Degaule came to power the second time with determination to end French colonialism. This then quickened the independence for African states.




  • After the crisis Egypt was driven into an ambitious union with Syria in 1958 which was an attempt by Nasser to create a United Arab Republic that would consolidate Arab unity and solidarity.
  • Similarly Egypt was drawn closer to Russia and the Eastern bloc. She got more financial and technical assistance that enabled her undertake domestic projects especially the construction of the Aswan High Dam. After securing this aid economic development was enhanced given the vital importance of the dam in industrial development of Egypt.
  • As a negative consequence Egypt lost some territories in the Sinai to Israel which allowed Israel to gain access to the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red sea. This had never been the wish of Nasser and Egypt who sought to protect whatever belonged to the Arab world.
  • To facilitate peace in the region as a result of UN intervention, Egypt was forced to abandon her terrorist activities against Israel. This was a great disappointment to the Palestinians because PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) which had been formed under Yasa Alfat in 1963 to counteract Israel that was backed by the Western world had had great support from Egypt. This definitely strengthened the Israel’s stay between the Arab states.




  • The crisis strengthened the Arab world for instance the Arab League which was formed in 1955 by Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen had their headquarters in Cairo until 1978 when they transferred to Tunisia.
  • It was after this crisis that Nasser confidently supported other nationalists like Kwame Nkrumah, Ben Bella, Kenyatta, and Lumumba among others. Prominent beneficially of this was the FLN from Algeria. Egypt then became a voice of all discontented people of the world on international fora especially the UN General Assembly.
  • Iraq because of being Pro-British came under increasing attack from other Arab states after the crisis. The prime minister of Iraq Nuriel-Saidi was eventually murdered in 1958 giving a way to the Iraq Union with other Arab powers which was aimed at getting rid of Israel from the Arab map. However this led to many wars with Israel including the 6 days war of 1967 and the Yom-Kuppar war of 1973. It can thus be argued that relations that were later to follow between the Arabs and the Jews owed much to the Suez Canal crisis.




  • Having got the confidence of war victory, Egypt blocked the canal and the Arabs turned off oil taps that were heading to Western Europe. As a result the whole world was severely heat by the oil crisis famous of which was the 1973 oil crisis which was meant to bring Western Europe to her knees and completely relax her imperial attitude against the Arab world. The Suez Canal crisis therefore is credited for having brought diplomatic relations between Europe and the Arab world.
  • The crisis hampered the relations between USA and Britain, Britain went to war with all hopes that Giant USA will come to her rescue in case aloof and more so President Eisenhower was not ready to face a Soviet Union that was supporting Nasser for it could make him loose another term of office by supporting violent unpopular actions. Britain was further angered by the American action of voting against her in the UN.
  • On 6th November 1956, the war came to an end after 60 days of bitter fighting they called for a cease fire and the canal was handed over to the UN emergence forces of about 40,000 men under the control of the UN Boss Dag Hammersk Jold. The plan was very much supported by Eisenhower who was not ready to face disaster with USSR that had just invented a hydrogen bomb spatnak I. so the invaders had lost and Nasser had gained highly.
    Note: The 1952 Egyptian coup was the first coup in the history of Africa in post independent Africa and the Egyptian revolution was the first major changes seen by the Europeans in what they had termed the “Dark Continent’’ yet the Suez canal crisis was the first major diplomatic victory over the Europeans.




It can therefore be argued that the rise of the free army officers was a blessing to Egypt and Africa at large because the Egyptian coup had far reaching effects.

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