Why was the 1956 Suez Crisis so significant?

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The 1956 Suez Crisis is widely understood to be hugely significant – if not a defining – moment in modern world politics. The decision of Britain, France and Israel to invade Egypt in an effort to take control of the Suez Canal Zone would fundamentally change the global system and cement the place of the United States and the Soviet Union as the superpowers of the Cold War. But its effects would go further than that. So, how did the Suez Crisis erupt? What was its true significance? And how exactly did it change international politics?

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The Suez Canal is one of the most important geostrategic locations in the World. From the moment it was constructed, in 1869, it has been a vital international waterway linking Europe and Asia. As a result, it came to be closely linked with the British Empire. This continued right into the 1950s. However, in 1956, following a decision by Britain and the United States to pull funding for a major project, the Egyptian leaders, Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised it. Despite warnings from Washington, Britain, France and Israel launched a secret plan to retake control of the Canal by Force. Their decision, which would end as a fiasco, would rewrite international politics in one of the most significant events of the Cold War era.

0:00 Introduction and Titles
0:48 The Suez Crisis as a Moment of Change
1:54 The Significance of the Suez Canal
3:36 The Development of the Suez Crisis
4:53 The Unfolding of the Suez Crisis
8:05 The Effects of the Suez Crisis
12:24 How the Suez Crisis changed World Politics

Secession and Independence in History https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUzSOLzcfKuOsFGYQ2Cfg4as07tH6QyW9
Secession and Independence in the Middle East https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl6C0AzQB7o&list=PLUzSOLzcfKuPqidPUNioMVMQQ6VoxqX8r


UN Emergency Session on Suez https://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/3354&Lang=E
US and the Suez Crisis (State Department) https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1955-57v16
The IMF and the Suez Crisis https://www.elibrary.imf.org/view/IMF024/03372-9781451973792/03372-9781451973792/03372-9781451973792_A001.xml?redirect=true
Suez: Britain’s End of Empire in the Middle East https://amzn.to/3cGL46t
Blood and Sand https://amzn.to/3cJNSji
Eisenhower 1956 https://amzn.to/3cHRylw


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22 thoughts on “Why was the 1956 Suez Crisis so significant?”

  1. Well, I couldn't resist! The recent grounding of the Ever Given reminded us all just how important the Suez Canal is in world affairs. It seemed a good moment to revisit the 1956 Suez Crisis – an event that is widely understood to have changed world politics. But, looked at now, almost 65 years later, do you think it was really as significant as people often believe?

  2. Another fine work! Although, I have a question. Wasn't the Indochina problem solved back in 1954 (after the battle of Dien Bien Phu & Geneva Convention)? So I figured that it wasn't a factor that co-exist with the Suez Canal crisis. Anyway, thanks for the video 😀

  3. It's bound to have had some impact on the UK handling of the EOKA struggle/Cyprus Emergency right? Are there any studies that you know of James?

  4. Another super interesting vid James..! I don't know if I told you this before but my family were directly impacted by this event… my Father's family were Russian emigrés living in Egypt following the civil war in Russia.. my Dad and Uncle in fact were both born in Cairo.. when Nasser came to power the anti "foreigner" sentiment in the country forced them to leave and they decided to emigrate to Australia. Looking forward to your next one..! all the best..g

  5. Very timely video, James – thank you! The Ever Given 'affair' just made me realise that I needed a read-up on this subject – and what better way is there than your excellent 'lectures'! 😉👍

  6. Wow James..
    it actually came like a refreshment after all isolated cases of secession you showed before. I would say you need more lectures like this which shows point from global perspective. You are really good in it and in my opinion it seems to be much more interesting. I would like to see more videos about some benchmark events in international politics or you can just add a wider perspective on problems that you usually cover. However, I wouldn't stop watching your videos even if you keep them like before 😀

  7. In the picture you look too young to have first ha d knowledge of that crisis, so your fake narration is most likely the result of faulty schooling. The truth is that
    due to the threat of the USSR, these bagabond international robbers(UK, France) shuttled in their pants.

  8. Liked the video as always! Surprised you didn’t mention the Soviets supposedly backing Nasser up with threats of nukes. Of course they didn’t really care about the British banking crisis and weren’t going to take any chances in any regard.

    This one has always torn me because America didn’t exactly come out the winner, the Soviets gained Nasser, who was an “Arab socialist” but not a political socialist, as an ally, despite the fact that he was happy to work with the Americans (though his demands of weapons to attack Israel were unacceptable).

    Thus not backing Britain and France only helped America only in one sphere, and only short-term, and that is in inflating the power of the UN, something that I’d argue hasn’t done it much good long-germ as the UN has become a forum for anti-American (and anti-British) grandstanding and diplomatic posturing for several decades now.

    In the end Israel captured the eastern bank of the canal 11 years later anyway, though Egypt of course later got it back, but by that point Egypt became friendlier to Israel and signed a peace deal with them and the rest of the Classical world

  9. I have to point out that israel didn't really need the suez canal for shipping, seeing as they have ports both on the red sea and the mediterranean.
    What israel wanted to achieve from this war was the lifting of the illegal blockade by egypt of the straits of tiran further south, that impeded israel's shipping from and to the red sea.

  10. really love your videos James, got some of your books , but I would love book recommendations from YOU. Books similiar to 'Secession and State Creation'. Really loved your BIAFRA WAR video, I am working on a journal discussing the evolution of Nigeria, and that video accelerated some parts. Thank you. AGAIN, Book recommendations

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