Considered to be the most significant turning point in post-war British foreign policy, the Suez Crisis1 refers to the British decision to join with France and Israel in a military intervention in an attempt to prevent General Nasser of Egypt nationalising the Suez Canal in the autumn of 1956.
On July 26, 1956, the Egyptian government seized the Suez Canal in accordance with a decree of nationalization issued by President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser announced that Egypt planned to use the proceeds from the operation of the canal to finance the Aswan High Dam.
On October 29, 1956, Israel invaded Egypt. Two days later, British and French military units attacked Egypt for the announced purpose of ensuring free passage through the canal.
In retaliation, Egypt sank 40 ships in the canal, effectively blocking it. Through the United Nations, a truce was arranged in November, and by the end of the year Israeli, French, and British forces were forced to withdraw from the area as a result of intervention by the United States.
Following removal of the sunken vessels by a UN salvage team, the Egyptian government reopened the canal in March 1957.