Timothy Benson, whose new book explores how the Suez Crisis was viewed in the world’s press and by cartoonists in particular, here tells the story of a tumultuous year.
Britain’s first occupation of Egypt, supposedly temporary, had begun in 1882 and lasted until June 1956. Thus Egypt became, in all but name, a British protectorate. The Canal became vital to British trade especially oil imports, as by 1956 nearly two-thirds of Britain’s oil came through the Canal.
In 1952, the coup by the Free Officers led by General Neguib forced the abdication of King Farouk. By June 1956, Neguib had been replaced by Nasser who became President in 1954. On April 6th, 1955, Anthony Eden became prime minister in Britain and quickly won a General Election. However, economic difficulties soon brought a great deal of criticism of Eden, incensing a notoriously thin-skinned man. Particularly irritating was a passage in a Daily Telegraph article entitled ‘The Firm Smack of Government’ which suggested that he was indecisive.