Page 2, 28th September 1956

28th September 1956
Page 2
Page 2, 28th September 1956 — SUEZ ISSUES

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Anglo-Egyptian History Recalled

SIR,-As one who has been employed by an Egyptian Government and who has actually swum the Suez Canal, 1 should like to set down some points which need to be kept clear.

In 1936. Britain signed an agreement to withdraw her forces to the Canal and never keep more than 8,000 there. During the war, the same British Ambassador who had arranged the treaty came to the King's Palace, literally with big guns, and forced a change of govern me n t which proved rapacious, inflicting great suffering on the masses of the people. After the war was ended, the British in defiance of their treaty, kept troops in Cairo and Alexandria, and until 1954 they had not 8,000 hut 80,000 on the canal. They then removed them and made a new treaty of friendship with Egypt.

No sooner had they done so than Nasser in turn prepared to break the treaty and nationalise the Canal. He was able to do so because the war into which his

otry had been forced resulted in the triumph of Russian. In 1936 Egypt, bound with treaty to Britain, did not acknowledge the

Moscow Government. In 195h

Egypt. at loggerheads with Britain is in close relation with Moscow which gains by any trouble Nasser causes to France or Britain, or any they cause to him. The war which Britain had waged in the interests of Moscow resulted in the enmity of Egypt. Though when Nasser proclaimed that he had nationalised the canal he broke an agreement, he offered to pay the shareholders the market price of their shares. Almost half of these are the property of the British Government, and in 1968 all the rights of the shareholders accrue to Egypt. The case of Nasser is complicated in itself; he championed the impoverished masses who had been exploited during the war and dispossessd the war profiteers. John Gunter, that competent American observer, gives him almost undiluted praise as one who did far more for the people than the British had done. But Nasser has not only broken his word to our Prime Minister. He has also done so to the French, stirring iip more trouble in Algeria.

With Hitler in mind, the French and British governments have wanted to scotch Nasser in time. But it has become evident that Russia is a more formidable customer than either Hitler or Nasser; use of force against Nasser might hand Over to Russia not only the Middle East but Asia. And since no great practical issue is immediately involved, no country now talks of force the idea has been quietly dropped.

Sir Anthony Eden and Mr. Gaitskell are practically agreed, though both have had fussy fol

lowers. All organs of religions opinion agree in prefering diplomacy to force. and for this Catholics following the Pope's own lead should work and pray with the encouraging thought that for once they have with them the Archbishop of Canterbury. The reason that diplomacy now has a task particularly heavy is not that the present government has been so inept as that it has to face the ineptitudes and misdemeanours of past times.

Robert Sencourt. 19 St. John's Street,


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