What were the events that led to the Suez Crisis in 1956? How did it deal a final blow to Britain's self-image as a world power?
The Suez crisis of 1956 was precipitated by the nationalization of the Suez Canal by then Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. This took control of the Suez Canal away from the French and the British and entrusted it with the Egyptians. However, a multitude of other factors finally led to the invasion of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula by Israel, which was later joined by UK and France.
Since 1951, Britain faced increased and violent opposition in Egypt, which culminated in the withdrawal of British forces by 1955. Britain suffered great economic losses in addition to loss of lives while it fought to retain control over Egypt. The final withdrawal of Britain signaled the defeat of Britain. Nasser and then British PM, Anthony Eden, also had an antagonistic relationship, with each believing that the other sought to humiliate him. Eden also failed in his efforts to stop anti-British radio broadcasts from Egypt and more importantly, to get Egypt to join the Baghdad Pact. Israel, on the other hand, was threatened by Egypt’s rising power and Nasser’s popularity. This led to the three nations ganging up against Egypt.
Due to international pressure, especially from USA and the USSR, Britain and the other countries had to withdraw their troops. This withdrawal added insult to injury to UK which had just recently withdrawn its troops from Egypt.