The Suez Canal was opened in 1869 under French and Egyption ownership..
Both countries had contributed to the cost. The French under a 99 year lease which expired in 1968
The British involvement in the canal came about when the ruler of Egypt put his shares up for sale because of financial problems in 1875. Disraeli bought the shares for 4 milliion pounds giving the British government as security. Thus Britian became a controlling shareholder in the Suez Canal Company.
In 1888 a treaty was signed to help boost the weak Egyptian economy. The treaty stated that the canal was
open to all in peace and war. In 1922 Egypt became independent it had a King [Fuad]and an army.
In 1936 Fuad died and King Farouk took over as King of Egypt and Sudan. Farouk became alarmed when Italy attacked Ethiopia in the 1935 war. He then drew up a treaty between Britain and Egypt stating that the UK was to withdraw all troops from Egypt except those necessary to protect the Suez canal and its surroundings, 10,000 troops plus auxiliary personnel. The UK would also supply and train Egypt’s army and assist in its defence in case of war. Both countries signed the agreement
The Suez Crisis 1956.
The Suez Crisis began when the U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles found out that Gamil Nasser, President of Egypt, was buying arms from the soviet block. He then informed Nasser that money for the Aswan Dam project would not be available. Nasser retaliated by nationalising the Suez canal, even tho' it was his in 1968 when the lease ran out.
He also stopped Israel's ships from using the canal and the Straits of Tiran, thus stopping Israel’s oil supplies.
On October 25, Egypt signed a tripartite agreement with Syria and Jordan placing Nasser in command of all three armies. The continued blockade of the Suez Canal and Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, combined with the increased commando attacks, prompted Israel to attack Egypt on October 29, 1956.
The attack was described as a 'work of art' by the military historian Sir Basil Liddell Hart.
The attack started with a parachute drop at the Mitla Pass not to far from the Suez Canal, and deploying some troops along the Jordon border. This confused Nasser as to where the brunt of the attack would come. He waited 24 hours before moving his 2nd Brigade from Suez to the Mitla Pass with one battalion moving into the narrow part of the pass. Ariel Sharon’s 202 paratroop battalion then attacked the Egyptian troops, some bitter hand to hand fighting took place before the Egyptians conceded defeat then broke and ran. Sharon rested his men for 48 hours before moving them in the direction of Sharm el Sheikh where the main attack would focus. Sharm el Sheikh overlooks the Straits of Tiran. The Egyptians at Sharm surrendered with very little resistance.
In the aftermath, the Americans wanted the Iraelis to give back all the land they had gained, saying they would stop financial aid. The Israelis refused, demanding that the UN took over the land they had gained. They also wanted a guarantee that the Straits of Tiran would stay open for their ships. The Americans granted their request.
This kept the peace for a few years.
As for the Anglo French attack on Port Said. The 3 Para attack on El Gamil was all over in a couple of hours. B company took the brunt of the attack and lost 4 comrades.
The French did an equally quick job at Port Fuad By the time the Russians and Americans started moaning it was all over. We were 20 miles up the canal at El Cap and not a shot was fired. In the negotiations after the attack compensation was offered to the share holders and was all paid up by 1963. The civilian British that had to leave Egypt over the troubles also received some compensation; this was paid up by 1969.
Nasser would have been better off leaving the British to protect the canal, he certainly couldn’t do it with that army.
The six day war
In 1967 Nasser started again. He told the UN he wanted them off Egyptian soil. After a while U Thant [ the UN secretary] obliged him. Nasser then closed the Straits
Of Tiran to Israeli ships. He knew this move would put Israel on a war footing.
Nasser had amassed the largest army the conflict had ever seen. Egypt, Jordan, Syria,
With contingents from Iraq, Sudan, Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria,.
Israel went strait off the front foot. Smashing the air forces of Egypt, Jordon, Syria whilst they were still on the ground. They then set about the ground forces that had no air cover. It was a complete rout, with thousands of Egyptians surrendering.
Six days to wreck the largest army in the Middle East. Nasser offered his resignation.
Field Marshal Amar the man Nasser picked to lead the attack, committed suicide
The canal stayed closed for the remainder of Nasser’s rule. When Nasser died in 1970
his country was flat broke, his politics had failed, Nasser