Suez Crisis(redirected from 1956 Arab-Israeli War)
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(Russian title: Anglo-French-Israeli aggression against Egypt, 1956). The aims of England and France in their aggression against Egypt in 1956 were to secure their predominance in the Arab East, which had been undermined by the national liberation movement, and to seize the Suez Canal by armed force since on July 26, 1956, Egypt had nationalized the company that operated it. Israel’s aims were to weaken its neighboring Arab states, to make territorial gains at Egypt’s expense, and to force Egypt, as well as the other Arab states, to acquiesce in Israel’s annexationist policies.
As events showed, a carefully worked-out plan of joint English, French, and Israeli aggression against Egypt existed. On Oct. 29, 1956, Israeli troops began the war by invading Egyptian territory on the Sinai Peninsula; on Oct. 31, English and French armed forces began a naval and air bombardment of Egypt, and on Nov. 5, English and French troops landed in the Port Said area. The Egyptians responded bravely to this threat against their homeland. Workers, students, and fel-lahin took up arms to defend Port Said side by side with the soldiers of the Egyptian army. The socialist countries, the Indian and Indonesian governments, and progressive international and national public organizations all demanded an immediate end to the aggression.
On Oct. 31 the Soviet government emphatically condemned the aggression in a special statement and indicated that it was necessary for the UN Security Council to take immediate measures to put it to an end. However, England and France used their veto power to paralyze the Security Council. The UN General Assembly considered this act of aggression several times in a special session and at its 11th session. The assembly passed resolutions (on Nov. 2, 7, and 24,1956, as well as on other dates) demanding a cease-fire and the withdrawal of English, French, and Israeli armed forces from Egypt. On Nov. 5, 1956, the Soviet government delivered messages to the governments of England, France, and Israel, warning their leaders that the Soviet government was fully determined to use force to defeat the aggressors and to restore peace in the Middle East. During the night of Nov. 7, 1956, the English, French, and Israeli aggressors were forced to cut short their military operations on Egyptian territory. Nevertheless, having taken Port Said with English and French troops and the Sinai Peninsula with Israeli troops, the aggressors planned to strengthen their hold on the conquered territory. However, these plans fell through.
On Nov. 11, 1956, TASS declared that it was the opinion of the leadership of the USSR that appropriate Soviet organs would not prevent citizens from volunteering to take part in the struggle of the Egyptian people for independence if England, France, and Israel did not cease their aggression and continued to defy the UN resolutions by keeping their troops on Egyptian soil. Large numbers of volunteers in Indonesia and many other countries declared their readiness to go to Egypt. On Nov. 15 the Soviet government again sent messages to the governments of England, France, and Israel, emphasizing the necessity for immediate withdrawal of interventionist troops from Egyptian territory, for the payment of reparations to Egypt for damages caused by the war, and for the curtailment of Israeli encroachments on Egyptian territory. The courageous struggle of the Egyptian people, the resolute opposition to the aggression on the part of peace-loving forces headed by the Soviet Union, and the failure of the attempt by imperialist powers to weaken the support given to Egypt by the socialist countries, utilizing the uprising in Hungary in October and November 1956, which had been planned by Hungarian reactionaries with the support of international imperialism—all this forced England and France to withdraw their troops from Egypt on Dec. 22,1956, and Israel to do the same on Mar. 8, 1957. With the consent of the Egyptian government, UN forces subsequently took up positions on Egyptian territory along the Egyptian-Israeli cease-fire lines, which had been established by agreement between Egypt and Israel on Feb. 24, 1949.
United States policy toward this act of aggression was to pretend to play a “peace-keeping” role. Fearing that the political and economic positions of the American monopolies in the Middle East might be undermined, the United States did not dare to side with the aggressors openly. It even introduced a resolution in the United Nations on Nov. 2, 1956, condemning the actions of England, France, and Israel in Egypt. However, subsequent political events—for example, the Eisenhower doctrine—showed that the United States did not want to consolidate peace in the Middle East but to find more flexible means of strengthening the dominance of the imperialist powers, including itself, in that region.
The failure of the English, French, and Israeli aggression against Egypt was a victory for peace-loving peoples and constituted a further blow to the colonial system of imperialism.