ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Wrong Diplomacy.

In west Asia the situation to-day is as it was after Egypt’s decision to nationalise the Suez Canal Company. There is, however, a significant difference. In the battle of diplomacy Cairo has the full initiative. Developments since Egypt’s decision to assert sovereignty over the Suez Canal can be easily told. Britain, France and Israel, the aggressors, are trying to behave as if no aggression had taken place. By virtue of prompt compliance with the directive of the United Nations to withdraw forces from Egyptian territory, Britain and France claim, by implication, that they are entitled to their rights prior to nationalisation of the Canal. Israel, too, has, though under certain assurances by the United States, evacuated Gaza and the Gulf of Aqaba. But she insists that America must fulfil the promises. Egypt has reacted promptly and properly to the retreating actions of aggressors. But she is no less insistent that aggressors must not be allowed to benefit from their acts of aggression; that, her sovereignty over her territories and waterways must be accepted without reservations; that, subject to these conditions, she is willing to abide by the directives of the United Nations. Egypt may be diplomatic, but not incorrect in her behaviour and attitude.

Egypt has been accused of pursuing delaying tactics in clearing the Canal. She will, perhaps, not deny these allegations, but she will plead in defence that she cannot be expected to fulfil her part of the obligation without Israeli obeisance of the mandate of the United Nations. With the Israeli evacuation of Gaza and the Gulf of Aqaba, Cairo has sanctioned preparatory work for removal of the two remaining wrecks that block the Canal. But it is clear that Egypt is in no haste to ensure resumption of full navigation through the Canal without a proper solution of the incidental problems. These issues have many aspects. Payment of Canal dues is only one of them. Since the nationalisation of the Canal to the Anglo-French aggression, Britain and France were paying only forty per cent of the Canal dues to Egypt. Cairo did not accept such payments as just, but Egypt did not refuse passage to Anglo-French shipping so as not to aggravate the situation.

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