Gamal Abdel Nasser on the Nationalization of the Suez Canal

(1956)

Context

The nationalization of the Suez Canal was one move in a complex geopolitical chess match. The canal, which had opened in 1869, was originally financed by the governments of France and Egypt. It was placed under the control of an enterprise chartered by the Egyptians called the Universal Company of the Suez Maritime Canal. In 1875 the Egyptian viceroy, Isma'il Pasha, was forced to sell his shares in the company because of a financial crisis. The British government bought the shares, which gave it a 44 percent interest in the canal company. British influence in the region increased as a result of the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882. In response to a revolt by the Egyptian army, Britain invaded, defeated the Egyptians, and occupied the country in an effort to protect the canal and British financial interests in the region. The key battle in the conflict was the Battle of Tel el Kebir, near the Canal Zone, on September 13, 1882.

Britain had physical control of the canal and...

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

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