In 1952, Colonel Gamal Abd al-Nasser seized power in Egypt in a bloodless coup. As a leader, Nasser espoused what has become known as "Nasserism," the major goal of which was to unify all Arabs into a single state. Fearing the loss of access to Arabian oil that could ensue if Nasserism spread, the United States and other countries attempted to weaken Nasser. In 1956, the U.S. retracted its offer to finance Egypts Aswan Dam. In response, Nasser nationalized the strategically important Suez Canal, which had been under British control since 1937. In order to help Britain to regain the Canal, the U.K., France, and Israel decided upon a military strategy: with French support, the Israelis would attack Egypt, and then a "peacekeeping" force from France and the U.K. would enter Egypt, thereby ensuring Western control over the region. Although the campaign went according to plan, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. pressured France, Britain, and Israel to withdraw their troops. When the three countries eventually did so, Nasser was honored by Arabs as a leader who had saved the Arab world.
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