Speech by President Nasser of the United Arab Republic, September 15, 1956
In these decisive days in the history of mankind, these days in which truth struggles to have itself recognized in international chaos where powers of evil domination and imperialism have prevailed, Egypt stands firmly to preserve her sovereignty. Your country stands solidly and staunchly to preserve her dignity against imperialistic schemes of a number of nations who have uncovered their desires for domination and supremacy.
In these days and in such circumstances Egypt has resolved to show the world that when small nations decide to preserve their sovereignty, they will do that all right and that when these small nations are fully determined to defend their rights and maintain their dignity, they will undoubtedly succeed in achieving their ends. . . .
I am speaking in the name of every Egyptian Arab and in the name of all free countries and of all those who believe in liberty and are ready to defend it. I am speaking in the name of principles proclaimed by these countries in the Atlantic Charter. But they are now violating these principles and it has become our lot to shoulder the responsibility of reaffirming and establishing them anew. . . .
We have tried by all possible means to cooperate with those countries which claim to assist smaller nations and which promised to collaborate with us but they demanded their fees in advance. This we refused so they started to fight with us. They said they will pay toward building the High Dam and then they withdrew their offer and cast doubts on the Egyptian economy. Are we to declaim [disclaim?] our sovereign right? Egypt insists her sovereignty must remain intact and refuses to give up any part of that sovereignty for the sake of money.
Egypt nationalized the Egyptian Suez Canal company. When Egypt granted the concession to de Lesseps it was stated in the concession between the Egyptian Government and the Egyptian company that the company of the Suez Canal is an Egyptian company subject to Egyptian authority. Egypt nationalized this Egyptian company and declared freedom of navigation will be preserved.
But the imperialists became angry. Britain and France said Egypt grabbed the Suez Canal as if it were part of France or Britain. The British Foreign Secretary forgot that only two years ago he signed an agreement stating the Suez Canal is an integral part of Egypt.
Egypt declared she was ready to negotiate. But as soon as negotiations began threats and intimidations started. . . .
Eden stated in the House of Commons there shall be no discrimination between states using the canal. We on our part reaffirm that and declare there is no discrimination between canal users. He also said Egypt shall not be allowed to succeed because that would spell success for Arab nationalism and would be against their policy, which aims at the protection of Israel.
Today they are speaking of a new association whose main objective would be to rob Egypt of the canal and deprive her of rightful canal dues. Suggestions made by Eden in the House of Commons which have been backed by France and the United States are a clear violation of the 1888 convention, since it is impossible to have two bodies organizing navigation in the canal. . . .
By stating that by succeeding, Abdel Nasser would weaken Britain : s stand against Arab nationalism, Eden is in fact admitting his real objective is not Abdel Nasser as such but rather to defeat Arab nationalism and crush its cause. Eden speaks and finds his own answer. A month ago he let out the cry that be was after Abdel Nasser. Today the Egyptian people are fully conscious of their sovereign rights and Arab nationalism is fully awakened to its new destiny....
Those who attack Egypt will never leave Egypt alive. We shall fight a regular war, a total war, a guerrilla war. Those who attack Egypt will soon realize they brought disaster upon themselves. He who attacks Egypt attacks tile whole Arab world. They say in their papers the -whole thing will be over in forty-eight hours. They do not know how strong we really are.
We believe in international law. But we will never submit. We shall show the world bow a small country can stand in the face of great powers threatening with armed might. Egypt might be a small power but she is great inasmuch as she has faith in her power and convictions. I feel quite certain every Egyptian shares the same convictions as I do and believes in everything I am stressing now.
We shall defend our freedom and independence to the last drop of our blood. This is the stanch feeling of every Egyptian. The whole Arab nation will stand by us in our common fight against aggression and domination. Free peoples, too, people who are really free will stand by us and support us against the forces of tyranny….
French intentions in Syria: Sykes–Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916. The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.
The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence. The terms were negotiated by the French diplomat François Georges-Picot and British Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes–Picot agreement, and when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, 'the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted.'
Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the sea and River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean. France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and the Ottoman Armenian vilayets. The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas. Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers, including the Sharif of Mecca.
In May 1917 W. Ormsby-Gore wrote "French intentions in Syria are surely incompatible with the war aims of the Allies as defined to the Russian Government. If the self-determination of nationalities is to be the principle, the interference of France in the selection of advisers by the Arab Government and the suggestion by France of the Emirs to be selected by the Arabs in Mosul, Aleppo, and Damascus would seem utterly incompatible with our ideas of liberating the Arab nation and of establishing a free and independent Arab State. The British Government, in authorising the letters despatched to King Hussein [Sharif of Mecca] before the outbreak of the revolt by Sir Henry McMahon, would seem to raise a doubt as to whether our pledges to King Hussein as head of the Arab nation are consistent with French intentions to make not only Syria but Upper Mesopotamia another Tunis. If our support of King Hussein and the other Arabian leaders of less distinguished origin and prestige means anything it means that we are prepared to recognise the full sovereign independence of the Arabs of Arabia and Syria. It would seem time to acquaint the French Government with our detailed pledges to King Hussein, and to make it clear to the latter whether he or someone else is to be the ruler of Damascus, which is the one possible capital for an Arab State, which could command the obedience of the other Arabian Emirs."
US, Britain, France repeat imperial intentions in Syria
Syria and the French, 1918–1946
Turkish troops enter the Allied controlled demarcation zone around Gallipoli and encamp at Chanak. Allied governments are determined to prevent Turkey occupying Chanak and reinforcements, including a number of Royal Air Force (RAF) units, are rushed to the area.
Elements from Nos. 4, 25, 56, 203 207, 208, and 267 Squadrons are formed into the Constantinople Wing, which supports the garrison until the crisis is settled in August 1923.
5 September 1922:
After the First World War, Turkey makes strenuous attempts to extend its control to Mesopotamia (renamed Iraq in September 1921), going as far as massing troops on the Turkish-Iraqi border and infiltrating irregular forces into Iraq.
By August 1922, irregulars, working with the local Kurdish tribes, have occupied Rowanduz and are probing towards Rania and Sulaimaniya. During the month, a mixed column of Imperial troops and levies, sent to restore the situation, are forced to retreat and it is subsequently decided to evacuate Sulaimaniya. Eighteen Royal Air Force (RAF) transport aircraft participate in the evacuation, which begins on this date.
30 September 1922:
Following earlier British reverses during September 1922, a Turkish Army detachment crosses into Iraq and established a post at Koi Sanjak, within 40 miles of Kirkuk. After an ultimatum dropped on the post is ignored, air action begins against Koi Sanjak and the neighbouring villages and the Turkish detachment is forced to withdraw.
1 October 1922:
The Royal Air Force (RAF) assumes military control of Iraq and throughout the winter of 1922-23, irregular posts are located and attacked from the air.
These attacks form the first effective check on Turkish aspirations with air supply operations conducted in support of Royal Air Force squadrons operating from Kirkuk.
Photo: British Military Aviation in 1922