The Suez Crisis of 1956: Redefining Diplomacy in the Middle East and the Wider World

The Suez Crisis of 1956: Redefining Diplomacy in the Middle East and the Wider World

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the year was 1956 since the end of the Second World War the Middle East had been a hotbed of Cold War competition as the world's strongest nations fight to control parts of the oil-rich and strategically important Arab world the old colonial powers Britain and France struggled to maintain their ever weakening hold over the area the new world superpowers the United States and the Soviet Union competed to add the area to their respective zones of control but one man
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Egypt's president Gamal Abdul Nasser had other ideas as part of his pan Arab vision he foresaw a Middle East United and free from any and all foreign control when Nasser brought this global power struggle to a head by nationalizing the privately owned Suez Canal he set off a diplomatic firestorm between nations vying for control in the Middle East as tanks rolled into the Sinai Peninsula it was clear that a new kind of diplomacy would be necessary to pull the world back from the brink of
01:14
World War 3 the Middle Eastern world in 1956 was marked by sharp divisions along cold war lines Iran Iraq Pakistan and Turkey had joined with the United Kingdom in 1955 to form the Baghdad pact to counter Soviet influence in the Middle East other Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt rejected the idea of siding with the Western world and instead remained sympathetic to the Soviet Union the Arab world was also at odds with the newly
01:50
created State of Israel when President Nasser took office in early 1956 he began to propound an agenda of pan-arabism Nasser's goal was to unite the nations of the Middle East in order to change the Arab world from a mere pawn in the Cold War chess match to a major world player who ever he also had
02:21
pressing domestic issues to manage the Egyptian people were suffering from critical food shortages to stimulate the economy Nasser planned to build a great dam at Aswan to regulate the Nile floods and create hydroelectric power the United States and Great Britain had initially agreed to provide the necessary loans to fund the data however citing NASA's close ties with the Communist world both nations pulled their funding a desperate Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canal a
02:52
potential goldmine and use the proceeds to fund his Dam completed in 1869 the Suez Canal is one of the world's most important waterways largely because of its role in the transport of valuable Middle Eastern oil at the time Nasser seized the canal the largely French and British owned Suez Canal Company still had 12 years remaining on its original 99 of the canal on July 26 1956 Nasser
03:23
announced that the Suez Canal Company had been nationalized and was now under Egyptian control yes better British Prime Minister Anthony Eden began to collaborate with French mime Minister a Malay to regain control of the canal the shown is not a man who can be trusted keep an agreement Pathan is familiar to many of us my friend we all know this is how fascist
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governments behave he could not however enlist the support of the United States who looked to play a defensive battle against the growing global influence of the Soviets United States was not consulted in any way about any phase of these actions nor were we informed of them in a sense in the circumstances I have described there will be no United States involvement in these present hostilities rather than allow Soviet influence in Egypt the US would
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ultimately defy its NATO allies and come to Nasser's defense France and Britain then turned to his Raley Prime Minister David ben-gurion who eagerly agreed to assist in the recapture of the Suez Canal seeing it as an opportunity to deal a serious blow to his Egyptian enemies on October 29 1956 Israeli paratroopers tanks and aircrafts invade Egypt's Sinai Peninsula Egyptian troops are unable to push back the Israelis Britain and
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France issue an ultimatum to Egypt and Israel to end the fighting threatening European intervention an emergency UN Security Council meeting is scheduled to prevent the fighting from escalating after prolonged debate the US and Soviet Union introduced resolutions to end hostilities in Egypt however both are struck down by British and French vetoes it quickly becomes clear that Britain and France are only looking for an excuse to invade Egypt only two days
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after Israel's first attacks Britain and France commence operation musketeer bombing multiple sites near the canal itself casualties rise and violence becomes more severe the UN is thrown into a pen until Lester Pearson a Canadian diplomat and revered member of the UN proposes a ceasefire resolution to the UN General Assembly because Security Council approval is not needed to enact this proposal it allows the UN to effectively circumvent British and French veto power
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the ceasefire would be enforced by the United Nations emergency force or UN yet of an emergency International United Nations ports to secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities these mr. president is far more and see scenes of fire on November 5th the Soviet Marshall Nikolai Bulganin issues a warning that the Soviet Union would use all modern
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forms of destructive weaponry to halt Western military intervention in Egypt additionally boganan sends Eden a telegram in which he warns of the possibility of World War 3 finally after much debate the ceasefire and UN EF proposals made by Pierson are approved by the UN General Assembly the United States uses its financial leverage over Britain and France to convince them to withdraw from Egypt threatening to rip off the economic band-aids with which
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the US had supplied post-war Europe only one week later UN EF forces arrived in Egypt just as the British and French began to retreat the end of the suez crisis brought about a seismic shift in the global power structure as well as a watershed in the development of modern diplomacy most immediately Nasser's Egypt became a world player as the de facto lead nation of the pan-arab movement by successfully defying Britain and France Egypt had flung off colonial
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influence effectively ending the reign of the old colonial powers over the Arab world Nasser's diplomatic strategies during the crisis also served to fuel the cold war fire knowing that both the United States and the Soviet Union wished to add the Middle East to their respective spheres of influence Nasser played the two powers off each other each superpower was obligated to match the other's contributions to Nasser's cause in order to maintain the upper hand in the larger Cold War struggle in fact the
08:24
United States his experiences competing with the Soviets for control during the Suez Crisis precipitated the advancement of the Eisenhower doctrine one year later which called for US assistance to any nation threatened by communist influence or invasion but the most lasting legacy of the Suez Crisis his resolution was the advent of the peacekeeping force I think it was a necessary element to freeze it didn't resolve the crisis it basically prevented the crisis from getting out of
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hand the UN EF did not resolve the Suez Crisis nor was it meant to it represented the development of a new branch of diplomacy devoted to the facilitation of negotiation and the cessation of hostilities the UN EF which set a precedent for future peacekeeping forces across the globe served to prevent violence from being used as a bargaining chip in negotiations its success led to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to its architect Lester Pearson the following year
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because of its wide-ranging implications the resolution of the suez crisis should be seen as an innovative and successful diplomatic paradigm for areas torn by conflict thus in a time when war and civil unrest are rocking the Arab world the lessons learned from the resolution of the suez crisis can guide us towards peace and stability in the Middle East and in the wider world Oh

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