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Operation Musketeer


British tank landing in Egypt during the Suez Crisis:

British tank landing in Egypt during the Suez Crisis
Operation Musketeer was the name given to the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt that began on October 31st 1956. The invasion was prompted by the Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal, and took place in coordination with an Israeli armoured attack into the Sinai.

Although British and French military forces were able to quickly take control over the Canal's principal facilities, the Egyptians were able to sink ships and other obstacles in the Canal, making it unusable. Furthermore, worldwide reaction against the operation was swift and severe; the USSR made military threats against Britain and France, Saudi Arabia started an oil embargo, Commonwealth Prime Ministers refused to support Britain, and the United States applied strong diplomatic and financial pressure on Britain.

On November 6th 1956, Britain unilaterally declared a ceasefire, without warning their French or Israeli allies in advance. British and French forces withdrew entirely from the Egypt before the end of the year, and were replaced by a United Nations force.

Until the Falklands War, Suez was the last major British military operation to take place without US support. The British and French governments drew opposite conclusions from the crisis: Britain moved closer to the United States, whereas France gradually moved to a more independent foreign policy, including developing its own nuclear weapons and eventually withdrawing from NATO's integrated military command structure.

The crisis visibly damaged the prestige of Britain and France, and increased pan-Arabist and anti-Colonial sentiments in the region. In particular, the position of Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser was greatly strengthened.





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