29th October 1956
The Suez Crisis was provoked by an American and British decision not to finance Egypt’s construction of the Aswan High Dam, as they had promised, in response to Egypt’s growing ties with communist Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.
Nasser reacted to the American and British decision by declaring martial law in the canal zone and seizing control of the Suez Canal Company, predicting that the tolls collected from ships passing through the canal would pay for the dam’s construction within five years. Britain and France feared that Nasser might close the canal and cut off shipments of petroleum flowing from the Persian Gulf to western Europe.
When diplomatic efforts to settle the crisis failed, Britain and France secretly prepared military action to regain control of the canal and, if possible, to depose Nasser. They found a ready ally in Israel, who crossed the Sinai Peninsula into Egypt heading towards the Suez Canal on October 29.
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