Gamal Abdel Nasser on the Nationalization of the Suez Canal

(1956)

Audience

The audience for the act nationalizing the Suez Canal was first the stockholders of the Universal Company of the Suez Maritime Canal, that is, the owners of the canal. The act simply and directly informed them that Egypt was taking over control of the canal and that they would be reimbursed for their shares. A second audience was the Egyptian people. This act was a bold move that buttressed Nasser's support among Egyptians, many of whom had been resisting European influence in their country for years. A third audience was the Israelis. In the wake of the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, tensions with Israel had remained high. The Arab nations, including Egypt, questioned the right of Israel even to exist in Palestine. By nationalizing the canal, Nasser was sending a message to the Israelis that their shipping through the canal was at the sufferance of Egypt. A fourth audience consisted of other Arab states in the region. Nationalizing the canal was a key step in Nasser's...

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

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