Gamal Abdel Nasser on the Nationalization of the Suez Canal

(1956)

On July 26, 1956, President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt issued the President of the Republic Order concerning the Issuance of Law No. 285 of 1956 on the Nationalization of the Universal Company of the Suez Maritime Canal. Under this law, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal—that is, took over its ownership and operation, thus removing the canal from British (and to a lesser extent French) control. The Suez Canal links the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, the latter of which provides access to the Indian Ocean. The area surrounding the Suez Canal is the only land bridge connecting Africa and Asia. For nearly a century prior to nationalization, the canal had played a vital role in world commerce and in Britain's ability to communicate with and defend its colonies in Asia. More recently, the canal has functioned as a pipeline for oil and other commodities.

Nasser's decision to nationalize the canal was a critical move in the geopolitics of the 1950s, when European colonial...

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The Red Sea at the entrance to the Suez Canal (Library of Congress)

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