Letter from the Staff
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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
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.