Joint Crisis - Conflict in the Sinai: The Suez Canal Crisis, 1956


The Suez Canal is…

An artificial waterway linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. It was completed in 1869 by the Franco-Egyptian Universal Maritime Suez Canal Company after ten years of construction. The canal was, and to a lesser extent remains, strategically crucial because of its status as the sole direct waterway linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. Its strategic role was notably significant to the maintenance of the British Empire due to the way in which it reduced travel times from the British Isles to Britain’s colonies in the east. Moreover, it was a major conduit for maritime petroleum transport until advancements in naval architecture led to the introduction of supertankers in the latter half of the 20th century.

It is 1956 and the government of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser has nationalized the Suez Canal in response to escalating regional tensions. Immediately after, Egypt bans Israeli traffic from the canal and the Straits of Tiran to the southeast, leading Israel to begin planning for military action. Moreover, Britain and France are infuriated due to the prospect of the impact on oil shipments and colonial access. Negotiations between Israel, Britain and France result in an agreement where Israel will launch an invasion against Egyptian forces in the Sinai with the understanding that the French and British would arrive shortly after under the guise of an intervention to stop the fighting, before siding with the Israeli forces to occupy the canal. As the fighting between Israel and Egypt starts and with the pre-planned Anglo-French ultimatum for disengagement ignored, the Anglo-French force begins a bombing campaign against strategic targets in Egypt.

The timeline of this committee begins on November 1st, 1956 after the first Anglo-French aerial offensive. Ongoing crisis updates will force delegates to make difficult decisions that will define a distinctive direction for the flow of the committee. This committee will offer delegates the opportunity to engage with a defining historical geopolitical crisis from a strategic and diplomatic angle while managing domestic political perceptions of their country’s position in the conflict.