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232 Foreign observers were similarly blindsided by the nationalisation. 236 On balance, nationalisation of the Suez Canal Company cannot be considered the most obvious riposte for Nasser at this stage. Thus his decision requires further explanation. *** ‘It is not so much the withdrawal of the money which we mind,’ Zakaria Mohieddin told the British Ambassador, Sir Humphrey Trevelyan. ‘We can find other ways of financing the High Dam. ’237 It may be, therefore, that the explanation lies in the press statement issued by Dulles on 19 July, in which he announced and explained the funding withdrawal.

364 But soon he was no longer able to deny the evidence of his own eyes. The Western powers had entered the war. 365 Nasser appears to have joined in the initial panic. 366 By midnight, the situation at Military Headquarters was ‘tense and nervous’. 368 The leaders’ disarray reinforces the point that they had not genuinely expected Western intervention and found themselves unprepared, with many troops still concentrated in Sinai, at risk of being cut off by an Anglo-French landing. 369 ‘There was no preparedness, no planning, no training nor anything else,’ writes Mar’i.

And all I can do is protect myself. ’247 To his confidant Heikal, Nasser complained that Dulles and Eden had 28 Nasser at War been deceiving Egypt all along. ’248 This raises a puzzle. If Nasser was indeed so convinced that the West was hostile and seeking to overthrow him, why did he provide a perfect pretext? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to delve more deeply into the thinking of the Egyptian leader during the week preceding the nationalisation, and especially his estimations of his enemies’ capabilities.

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