Europe 1956: Suez Crisis
While the United States and the Soviet Union were facing off in Europe, the European powers were watching their colonial empires fall apart. When the pan-Arabist government of Egypt decided to nationalize the Anglo-French owned Suez Canal, Britain and France responded by engineering an invasion of Egypt with Israel - a recently formed Jewish state that Egypt had threatened to destroy. The result was international condemnation, US fury, and a humiliating withdrawal by the two powers.
2 Mar–7 Apr 1956 Independence of Morocco▲
In 1953 France exiled the popular Sultan Mohammed V of Morocco to Madagascar, replacing him with the more malleable Mohammed Ben Arafa. However, after two years of increasingly violent Moroccan demands for the sultan’s return, the French backed down and agreed to restore Moroccan independence. On 2 March 1956 the French-Moroccan Agreement ended the French protectorate over Morocco, while the Spanish protectorate over the north of the country was revoked the following month.
20 Mar 1956 Tunisian Independence▲
In 1952 Habib Bourguiba launched a campaign of armed violence against French rule in Tunisia. Unable to reduce tensions, despite imprisoning Bourguiba, the French government eventually relented, granting Tunisia autonomy in June 1955. Following further negotiations, on 20 March 1956 Grand Vizier Tahar Ben Ammar and the French Foreign Minister Chrisitan Pineau signed the Franco-Tunisian protocol, effectively granting Tunisia independence with Bourguiba as prime minister.
23 Oct–11 Nov 1956 Hungarian Uprising▲
Starting with student protests in Budapest in October 1956, revolt erupted across Hungary, leading to the collapse of the government and withdrawal of Soviet troops from the capital by the end of the month. The new government of Imre Nagy formally disbanded the State Security Police, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact, and pledged to re-establish free elections. Initially appearing open to negotiations, the Soviets launched a full-scale invasion of Hungary on 4 November, crushed all remaining Hungarian resistance by the 11th, and reinstalled Communist rule.
31 Oct–7 Nov 1956 Operation Musketeer▲
On 30 October 1956 the United Kingdom and France issued an ultimatum to Egypt and Israel, calling for a ceasefire and demanding both sides withdraw from the Suez Canal. When the Egyptians refused to accept their demands, the Anglo-French forces bombed Egyptian airfields, destroying much of the Egyptian Air Force. Troops were landed on 5 November—with British and French paratroopers seizing Port Said and Port Fuad the next day—but political pressure brought the operation to an end on the 7th.
7 Nov 1956 Ceasefire in Suez▲
On 6 November 1956 British PM Sir Anthony Eden, responding to international pressure to withdraw from Suez but without warning the French or Israelis, announced a ceasefire in Egypt within 24 hours. The Anglo-French forces withdrew by 22 December, to be replaced by the United Nations Emergency Force. The Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai was complete by March 1957, allowing for the reopening of the Suez Canal in April.