The day the Suez Crisis started – level 3
The Suez Canal opened in 1869. The opening of this 163 km long canal, connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, was a great revolution. During sea journeys to East Africa, Arabia, India, and further east, it was no longer necessary to go around the entire African continent.
The British became the official administrator of the neutral territory around the Suez Canal. They used the canal the most and they were also the largest shareholders.
However, the situation changed in 1952. At that time, a revolution took place in Egypt where the Suez Canal is located.
The king was overthrown and Egypt became a republic, controlled by a president. He occupied the Suez Canal with the Egyptian army and announced that it belonged to Egypt. Britain and France disagreed and they came up with a plan to occupy the Suez Canal with the help of Israel.
On October 29, 1956, Israel launched an attack on Egypt. Shortly afterwards, the British and French began bombing military targets in Egypt. This was followed by a ground invasion and the occupation of the Suez Canal.
The action was condemned by the Soviet Union and the Americans. Without American support, the British and French armies had to leave Egypt. The conflict ended. The president of Egypt promised all ships a free passage through the canal. The Suez Canal stayed a part of Egypt.
Difficult words: shareholder (somebody who owns a part of a company), overthrow (to remove a leader by force), occupy (to take over), announce (to say officially), launch (to start), condemn (to say very strongly that something is bad), passage (a way through something).
What long-term consequences did the Suez Crisis of 1956 have in terms of international relations?
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