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Egyptian Foreign Policy

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1. Why did Egypt follow a neutral, non-aligned foreign policy in the 1950s?

2. How did France and Britain view Egyptian foreign policy prior to the Canal crisis?

3. What prompted the Egyptian government to nationalize the Suez Canal?

4. What was U.S. policy with regard to Egypt and Israel in 1955-56?

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1.Why did Egypt follow a neutral, non-aligned foreign policy in the 1950s?

In 1952, officers in the Egyptian army overthrew the monarchy under King Farouk (Egyptian Revolution). Abandoning policies co-operative with European powers, the new government asserted an independent and Arab nationalist identity.

The aim of the group which toppled Farouk (the Free Officers, founded by Nasser) was to rid Egypt not only of the monarchy but also of the British presence. Nasser did not want to be under British authority. He did not consider the Soviet Union an ally either. On the other hand, he was attracted to the Non-aligned Movement that was a form of positive neutrality that avoided agreements that would cause them to side with the West or the Soviet Union.

(An attack on Egyptian military outposts in Gaza in February 1955 by the Israeli army convinced Nasser to build up a military force to defend itself against Israel despite his former preference to invest in his country's development. Initially Nasser sought help from the West, but the United States frowned upon Egypt's policy of non-alignment and made it clear that Egypt would have difficulty in purchasing arms from them. The French 'demanded that Egypt cease aiding the Algerian national movement, which was fighting for independence from France'. The British told Nasser that no arms would be granted to Egypt if it bought any from the Soviet Union. In the face of rejection, Nasser turned to the Soviet Union for arms in September 1955. Hence Egypt became dependent on Soviet weapons, as it received none from the Western countries.)

2. How did France and Britain view Egyptian foreign policy prior to the Canal crisis?

The most important and urgent matter to resolve for the Free Officers upon their initiation into office was the evacuation of the British from Egypt.

The British wanted Egypt to enter into the Baghdad Pact as a part of a 'regional defense system' together with Britain, ...

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The solution answers four different questions on Egyptian foreign policy.

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