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The Suez Canal Reopens


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The Suez Canal
The Inauguration of the Suez Canal

The Suez Canal, a point of contention during the Suez Crisis, reopened to international traffic on March 8, 1957.

The Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, was completed by French engineers in 1869. For the next 88 years, it remained largely under British and French control. More importantly for Europe, the Canal cut a significant amount of time off shipping times for oil cargoes coming from the Middle East.

In the mid 1950s, however, the whole region exploded into conflict. It began in July 1956, with the decision of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to declare the Canal Egyptian territory, in clear contravention of accords governing transit through the area. Further, Nasser planned to charge a toll, in order to help finance a Nile dam project. The tense dispute turned to violence in Octember, when Israeli troops invaded the area. Troops from Great Britain and France joined the conflict the following month, and the joint forces occupied the Canal.

In a triumph for the United Nations, the invading troops left a few months later and Egypt reopened the canal, absent tolls and complaints.

Graphics courtesy of ClipArt.com


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