Anthony Eden and Suez

Anthony Eden and Suez

Anthony Eden was Prime Minister during the Suez Crisis of 1956. Despite US pressure not to embark on a military solution to Nasser’s nationalisation of the canal, Eden believed that it was the only way ahead after Nasser refused to pull back from the canal-zone. On October 30th 1956, Eden addressed the House of Commons:

 

“News was received last night that Israeli forces had crossed the frontier and had penetrated deep into Egyptian territory. Her Majesty’s government and the French government have accordingly agreed that everything possible should be done to bring hostilities to an end as soon as possible in seeking an immediate meeting of the Security Council. In the meantime, as a result of the consultations held in London today, the United Kingdom and French governments have now addressed an urgent communication to the governments of Egypt and Israel. In these we have called upon both sides to stop all warlike actions by land, sea and air forthwith and to withdraw their military forces to a distance of 10 miles from the canal. Further, in order to separate the belligerents and to guarantee freedom of transit through the canal by the ships of all nations, we have asked the Egyptian government to agree that Anglo-French forces should move temporarily – I repeat temporarily – into key positions at Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez.

 

The governments of Egypt and Israel have been asked to answer this communication within twelve hours. It has been made clear to them that, if at the expiration of that time one or both have not undertaken to comply with these requirements, both British and French forces will intervene in whatever strength may be necessary to secure compliance.”

 

In 1960, Eden, now the Earl of Avon, wrote in his memoirs:

 

“The General Assembly of the United Nations met on the morning of November 2nd. Sir Pierson Dixon rehearsed the case for our police action with his customary clarity and vigour. But the assembly was in an emotional mood. There was talk of collective action against the French and ourselves. It was not Soviet Russia, or any Arab state, but the government of the United States which took the lead in the Assembly against Israel, France and Britain. The Secretary of State said he moved the resolution with a heavy heart. It took no account whatever of events preceding the action. There was no suggestion of going to the root of the matter, or of using the Anglo-French intervention to good purpose, either to create an effective international force, or to negotiate an international agreement for the canal.

 

The resolution put peace in a straitjacket. Directed against Anglo-French intervention as well as fighting, it declared that all parties should agree to an immediate ceasefire.”






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