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Suez – A Very British Crisis (2006): #3/3 – War


About the Series

The Suez crisis in the 1950s signalled the end of Britain’s history as a power that could act alone on the world stage.

A new BBC Two series tells the story of Suez using dramatic reconstructions and interviews with participants and witnesses to the crisis.

Suez was British Prime Minister Anthony Eden’s downfall. But it made a hero of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser. In the first of a major three-part series marking the 50th anniversary of the Suez crisis, Betrayal traces the path that led to war. It is a story of occupation, resistance, war and politics which marked the end of British imperial dominance and saw the rise of Arab nationalism. It is also a familiar tale of regime change and intervention, when western leaders attempted to reshape the Middle East – not for the first time.

The programme includes interviews with participants and witnesses to the crisis: including Anthony Eden’s widow, the Countess of Avon, Omar Sharif, David Attenborough and Khaled Mohieddin, one of the surviving free officers who served alongside Nasser.

This Episode: War

The story of how Prime Minister Anthony Eden secretly plotted with France and Israel – behind America’s back – to seize the Suez Canal and remove Egyptian President Nasser.
When Nasser seized control of the Suez Canal, Anthony Eden was appalled.
He regarded Nasser as a dictator whose claim to represent all Arabs was a direct threat to British interests in the Middle East.
He was determined to make Nasser reverse his decision by force if necessary.
Programme two explains how Britain plotted with France and Israel to gain back control of the canal.
The plan was for Israel to invade Egypt, its neighbour, allowing Britain and France to issue an ultimatum to each side to stop fighting or they would intervene to “save” the canal.
The programme hears from members of the secret conference that hatched the plan including Douglas Hurd – then private secretary to the British ambassador to the UN – who describes the nightmare of having to sell Eden’s cover story for the plot.
And it reveals how an MP discovered what Eden was really up to and attempted to expose him in the House of Commons.

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