Eastern Mediterranean 1956: Rise of Nasser
By 1954 the Egyptian officer Gamal Abdel Nasser had emerged as the dominant figure in the new Republic of Egypt. Wishing to improve Anglo-Egyptian relations, the British agreed to withdraw from the Suez Canal Zone and to grant independence to Sudan. However, Nasser's support of Arab nationalism continued to remain at odds with British attempts to retain influence in the region.
18 Jun 1953 Abolition of Egyptian Monarchy▲
Following the abdication of King Farouk of Egypt and Sudan due to the 1952 Egyptian Revolution, his six-month-old son, Prince Ahmad Fuad, ascended the throne as King Fuad II. However, the infant king was immediately taken to Europe with his exiled father, leaving a Council of Regency in his place. Fuad II formally reigned from 26 July 1952 to 18 June 1953, at which point Prime Minister Mohammed Naguib declared a republic, bringing an end to the reign of the Muhammad Ali dynasty in Egypt and Sudan.
19 Oct 1954–13 Jun 1956 British evacuation from Egypt▲
In October 1954, in a bid to improve Anglo-Egyptian relations, the United Kingdom agreed to withdraw its military from Egypt, restoring the Suez Canal Zone to Egyptian control. After a phased evacuation, the last British troops left the country in June 1956. According to the agreement, the UK held the right to return for seven years and the Suez Canal Company would not revert to the Egyptian government until November 1968.
1 Nov 1954 Toussaint Rouge▲
Between midnight and 2 am on the morning of 1 November 1954—the Catholic festival of All Saints’ Day—the National Liberation Front (FLN) made 30 individual attacks against police and military targets around French Algeria. The attacks would be called Toussaint Rouge, or “Red All Saints’ Day”, and prompt François Mitterrand, then French Minister of the Interior, to despatch two companies of the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité and three companies of paratroopers to Algeria. Over the next year, the number of soldiers in Algeria would increase from 56,000 to 83,000 as the Algerian War began.
24 Feb 1955 Baghdad Pact▲
In 1955 Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom signed the Baghdad Pact, militarily aligning those nations to block Soviet expansion into Southwest Asia. Although the pact was supported by the United States, formal US involvement was limited, allegedly due to opposition from the pro-Israel lobby in Congress. The alliance became the Central Treaty Organizaton (CENTO) in 1959, following Iraq’s withdrawal.
1 Apr 1955–19 Feb 1959 Cyprus Emergency▲
In 1955 the ethnic Greek National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) began an insurgency against British rule in Cyprus, pushing for the unification of Cyprus and Greece (enosis). The British Governor General Sir John Harding responded by declaring a state of emergency, while Turkish Cypriots formed the Turkish Resistance Organisation (TMT) to oppose the Greeks. The conflict was brought to an end in 1959, when the compromise London–Zürich Agreements established the basis for Cyprus’ independence.
14 May 1955 Warsaw Pact▲
The Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania signed the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation, and Mutual Assistance—later known as the Warsaw Pact—in Warsaw, Poland. The pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO.
1 Jan 1956 Independence of Sudan▲
In 1953 Egyptian revolutionaries Mohamed Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser deposed the last King of Egypt and Sudan, signing a treaty with the United Kingdom in October 1954 to guarantee Sudanese independence. On 1 January 1956, the date agreed in the treaty, the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan became independent as the Republic of Sudan. Sudan’s first prime minister was Ismail al-Azhari of the pro-Egyptian National Unionist Party.