Suez Canal

Letter from the Staff

Hello delegates,

Welcome to SAMUN VII! We are thrilled to have you in our Suez Canal crisis committee this year and hope that you all are equally as excited. We’re your chairs, Mary and Oscar, and as veteran Model UN chairs and debaters ourselves, we’re ready to make this committee shine!

To preface the background guide and upcoming conference we wanted to briefly make a few expectations clear and go over certain guidelines. First and foremost, we want your experience here at SAMUN to be a fun, informative, creative, and welcoming one. Because of this we advise that all delegates research their positions thoroughly, participate actively, and are respectful of others. In our eyes as chairs, this is what makes an exceptional delegate. Additionally, while we value historical accuracy we feel the need to make it very clear that and form of harrassment or discrimination will not be tolerated within this committee, even under the guise of such ‘accuracy’.

This committee will start in the year 1956 immediately after President Nasser’s decision to nationalize Egyptian oil. We hope that delegates will take this opportunity to work together to fix or cope with the crisis at hand and form their own course of events along the way.

Sincerely, Mary

Description

The year is 1956, and in the midst of The Cold War, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nassar has just nationalized the Suez Canal, one of the most iconic, powerful, and sought after waterways in the world. Nassar’s choice to have Egypt reclaim their waterways is a brave statement against colonization, a powerful new asset to Egypt, and a sign of a new Middle East, but this decision does not go unpunished. France and the United Kingdom, now forced out of a stronghold that they once held colonial power over are outraged, and soon decide they must take action to reclaim what was once there’s. This committee starts in August 1956, one month after President Nassar’s decision, and we hope that our delegates will join together to combat crises and pressing topics such as The Cold War, post-colonialism, and militarization, all while finding a comprehensive and original solution.

Please reach out and email us with any questions:

mware.2022@saintannsny.org

Background

The start of the Suez Canal as we know it (in the year 1956), can be traced back as far as the

ancient times of the 6th Century BC, even with great writers such as Pliny, Aristotle, and Herodotus

writing about the ancient and powerful waterway. Even though it has served as a trading route and mode

of transportation for millennia, it was transformed into an international for-profit tradeway in 1858 when

Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps founded the Suez Canal Company. The company was essentially the

beginning of French/European imperialism in Egypt, specifically in the Canal. When Isma’il Pasha

became Wali of Egypt and Sudan in 1863, he refused to preserve the portions of concessions given to the

company. Originally, 15% of annual profits were granted to the Egyption government but in 1875, a

financial crisis forced Pasha to sell his shares to The United Kingdom encouraging imperialism.

In 1882, British forces occupied Egypt during the Anglo-Egyptian War. This began the first

period of English rule (1882-1914), often called the “veiled protectorate”. During this time the Khedivate

of Egypt remained an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire, and the British occupation had no

legal basis but constituted a de facto protectorate over the country. This state of affairs lasted until the

Ottoman Empire joined the First World War on the side of the Central Powers in November 1914 and

Britain declared a protectorate over Egypt. However, this formal protectorate over Egypt did not long

outlast the war. It was brought to an end by the Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence on 28

February 1922. Shortly afterwards, Sultan Fuad I declared himself King of Egypt, but the British

occupation continued, in accordance with several reserve clauses in the declaration of independence. The

situation was normalised in the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936, which granted Britain the right to station

troops in Egypt for the defence of the Suez Canal, and continue its control over the training of the

Egyptian Army.

In the mid-1900s, specifically around the time of World War II, the usage of the canal and the

motivations of usage by Western European nations, especially the United Kingdom, shifted to become

increasingly focused on one of the most valuable resources in the entire region: oil. The canal was an

incredibly convenient way for countries to transport oil after drilling it out of land all throughout the

Middle East, and the money that countries who had been left impoverished by the war were making off of

oil were invaluable. Additionally, throughout the 1940s, once the United Kingdom realized how

financially dependent they were on the money coming in through Egypt and the canal, they began to

rapidly militarize the region. The choking force of the British government on Egypt became increasingly

strained as anti-Western riots began to pop up and as U.K. military presence and action continued to

expand. As a retaliation against the escalating and blatant practices of modern colonization within the

country, Egypt abandoned the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 in an attempt to force English troops out of

Egypt but this effort proved unsuccessful, only adding fuel to the fire.

Soon after the increased conflicts and tensions brought about post-WWII, a new decade, the

1950s, brought a new series of troubles along with it. With an increasing military presence in the region,

from British warships landing at Port Said to Egypt being placed under martial law in response to rioting,

resentment grew among the public not only toward their imperial aggressors, but towards their domestic

leaders as well. A civil revolution in 1952 resulted in a coup against the monarchy, deposing of King

Farouk and placing Gamal Abdel Nasser as the president of Egypt. Additionally, caught in the midst of

the Cold-War Egypt was given the two polarizing options to side either with the United States or Soviet


Union. And to top it all off, the anti-colonial protests increased, with Egyptians looking to completely

separate from their former colonizers, specifically France and England. Sudanese independence

Only within a few months span in 1952 did the face of the Egyptian political world completely

change. Catalyzed by a chain of violence between British soldiers and the Fedayeen (the military

supported resistance) on January 25 resulting in the deaths of 50 Egyptian police officers and injury of an

estimate 100 more, the country erupted in riot. From these riots came arson. Mass fires, dubbed the “Cairo

Fires” by US publications, swept through the nation, only made worse by local fire brigades not

suppressing their growth. The following day, “Black Saturday” the revolution broke. In an attempt to

maintain control over the regime Farouk suspended the Egyptian parliament and instructed three separate

politicians to reform the government structure, Ali Maher, Ahmed Naguib El-Hilali and Hussein Sirri,

each lasting less than two months and proved wildly unsuccessful. This movement only emphasized

Farouk’s descent into autocracy and the revolution’s need to oust him.

Although many years had created the prelude to the revolution, the first official mark of an

Egyptian movement towards independence and sovereignty was the July 23rd announcement of the coup.

On that day the Free Officers Movement, led by General Mohammad Najeeb and Jamal Abdul Nasser,

broadcast a message declaring that the army has taken control over Egypt. In a broadcasted speech made

the morning of the coup, Free Officer and future President of Egypt outlined his plan for the country,

“They appointed a commander who is either ignorant or corrupt. Egypt has reached the point, therefore,

of having no army to defend it. Accordingly, we have undertaken to clean ourselves up and have

appointed to command us men from within the army whom we trust in their ability, their character, and

their patriotism.”

In the years leading up to the crisis Nasser began to solidify his control in the region and the

political landscape began to plateau. This interim period of about four years was marred with both conflict

and momentous progress, domestically and abroad. On the British front, Egypt gained more independence

from their begrudging colonizers, although it was paired with threats of force. On June 18 1953 Egypt

gained international recognition by becoming a republic, and within the next year a treaty had been signed

mandating that Britain withdraw in the following two year period. Additionally, further the region was

further liberated with Egypt and Britain signing an agreement granting Sudan independence. Relations

with the nascent Israel in 1955 were marred with skirmishes. In late 1954 Nasser sponsored the

fedayeen’s raids on civilians and soldiers across the Israeli border. In response Israel began a series of

reprisal operations resulting in in-air fighting over Gaza and skirmish in El Auja. More generally on the

international stage, the years leading up to the the crisis created the bedrock of vast economic and

diplomatic growth. In 1955, defying Western dogma, Egypt began trading one of the nation’s most

abundant resources cotton with countries such as China and the USSR. In return the Soviets supplied arms

to the post colonial military through trade agreements such as the Egyptian–Czechoslovak Arms Deal.

Ironically post-revolution Egypt initially looked to the US for sale of arms. However the Tripartite

Declaration signed in 1950 between the US, UK and France, preventing escalation and an arms race in the

West Bank, inhibited President Eisenhower from selling heavy arms he wanted to capitalise off of.

Eisenhower, both frustrated by the recognition of the communist China and under the impression that the

Soviets would now be the main benefactor of Egypt, moved to withdraw US support for an extension on

the Anwar Dam.

This committee will start november 1st 1956, one day after President Nasser’s announcement of

nationalization and blockage of the canal, and three days after the first Israeli invasion of Egypt, an attack

meant to be a joint French-British move. This committee will be simulating an emergency United Nations

meeting on the topic of the Suez Canal crisis. We want delegates to be accurate about their positions

initial goals and beliefs however we are also looking to have this committee not simply repeat the exact

history of what actually occurred but instead advocate for, debate, and create original solutions based on

the flow of this committee.

Positions

1. President Nasser

President Gamal Abdel Nasser was the second president of Egypt. Nasser’s appointment to office

and position as a democratic leader was the result of a coup that he led to overthrow the monarchy in

1952. Within less than half a year of being in office, president Nasser made the decision to nationalize

Egyptian oil, the main catalyst for this committee’s meeting.

2. Queen Elizabeth

Head monarch of the United Kingdom, the queen is a powerful representative and leader of the

conflict against Egypt. With a long history of British control and colonization in Egypt, as well as the

eventual profit that has come of this relationship, the United Kingdom is incredibly invested in keeping

Egypt under their control.

3. Anthony Eden

Anthony Eden was the British Prime Minister, starting his term in 1955. Eden had also previously

served as a Foreign Secretary and during his time in various offices was considerably involved in foreign

affairs. His views on the Suez Crisis were very similar to those of the Queen, both with Britain’s financial

success at the center of their concern.

4. Guy Mollet

Guy Mollet, recently appointed Prime Minister of France (as of 1956), was heavily involved in

the Suez Crisis for reasons very similar to those of the United Kingdom. France having ownership/control

over certain areas of Egypt was not quite willing to give them up because of the financial boost they

provided. Additionally, France sided with England on the basis of these shared interests.

5. Vyacheslav Molotov

6. President Eisenhower

As President of the United States, Eisenhower was in charge of a nation notorious for its alliance

with the United Kingdom and France, as well as a country involved in the ongoing Cold War with the

Soviet Union. Eisenhower and the U.S. were very concerned about Egypt possibly siding with the USSR

as well as what a nationalized Egypt would mean for them in the long run.

7. David Ben-Gurion

A founder of Israel and its first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion’s involvement in the Suez

Crisis began primarily in opposition to the Egyptian backed Palestinian guerrilla fighters in the West

Bank, reaching a crescendo once Nasser denied the passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal.

8. John Foster Dulles

As the United States Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles was a crucial member of the U.S.’

management of the Suez Crisis. Dulles’ views closely reflect those of President Eisenhower's, with a

strong focus on maintaining the United States’ alliance with England and France while making sure that

Egypt would not turn against them amidst the Cold War.

9. Nikita Khrushchev

Nikita Khrushchev, as the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was

responsible for Russia’s management of the Suez Crisis, and its relationship with Egypt. Nikita

Khrushchev and the USSR’s focus on Egypt was primarily for their support in the Cold War. Nassar’s

independent and anti-imperialist policy provided promising hope that he would become a strong ally.

10. Lester Pearson

Along with his accomplishments as prime minister of Canada, including introducing universal

health care and student loans, Lester Pearson won a nobel peace prize for organizing the United Nations

Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Crisis.

11. Muhammad Naguib

After his victory leading the Egyptian revolution of 1952, Muhammed Naguib was declared the

first President of Egypt. Post-revolution, Naguib continued the fight for control over the canal by

negotiating with British foreign secretary, Anthony Eden.

12. Farouk I

Although not recognized by many countries, Farouk was the king of Egypt and Sudan before the

revolution. He desired control over the canal and did not mind violence if it was necessary. Under his

rule, resources were cut off from the canal in an attempt to remove the British who refused to abandon

their position. Farouk was described as self indulgent which interfered with his decision making during

the crisis.


13. Nuri Said

As Prime Minister of Iraq appointed under British mandate, Nuri Said, led the initial charge towards Iraqi independence. Through his tenure his diplomatic relationship with the British monarchy remained a source of criticism by many of adversaries. In 1930 he signed the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty, granting British economic and militaristic sovereignty in the region, priming the tripartite invasion of Egypt.


14. Shimon Peres

Before assuming office as Prime Minister of Israel in 1995, Shimon Peres was the acting Director-General of the Ministry of Defense during the Suez Crisis. Peres was one of the key figures in tightening ally-ship with France to secure a flow of arms trade and in establishing a stronger national nuclear program. In Paris, Peres was one of the architects of the invasion, allowing Israel to gain short-term victories.


15. Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan served as the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Force during the invasion of the Suez Canal. Awaiting a second round of battle, Dayan urged then Prime Minister Ben-Gurion to take preemptive measures to provoke Egypt into justifying raids. At his post, Dayan personally commanded the Israeli forces fighting in the Sinai.


16. Bob Menzies

As Prime Minister, Bob Menzies brought Australia into the forefront of South Asian and global affairs through his soft power diplomacy campaigns, such as creating student exchange programs or enacting new trade agreements. Aligning himself with British and American interests, Menzies rejected the nationalization of the Suez Canal. As Australia relied on the canal for its own shipping trade, Menzies would later defend the Anglo-French invasion.


17. Anwar Sadat

Steeped in Egyptian Nationalism, early in his life Sadat helped to overthrow King Farouk. Succeeding Nasser as President of Egypt, he was assumed to be politically malleable. Surprisingly, Sadat drove back manipulation attempts and expelled many of the most ardent Nasserists from positions of power through his Corrective Revolution, backed by many Egypt’s Islamist Movement. Before his assassination, Sadat would go on to be one of the leading figures in the Camp David Accords.


18 Zhou Enlai

Aiding Mao Zedong and The Communist Party’s rise to power, Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China. Zhou was instrumental in bridging diplomatic gaps between both China’s neighboring Soviet allies and the cautious Western world. At the 1955 Bandung Conference, Zhou Enlai saw Nasser’s cause in Egypt as a vehicle for the Communist message and introduced him to powerful Soviet leaders. This move ultimately sparked early arms trade with the Soviet Bloc.