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Operation Musketeer ( ) was the Anglo-French-Israeli plan for the invasion of Egyptmarker to capture the Suez Canalmarker during the Suez Crisis. Israel had the additional objective to open the Straits of Tiranmarker.

Headed by British Army General Charles Keightley, it was conducted in October 1956 in close coordination with the Israelimarker armored thrust into the Sinai, which was called Operation Kadesh. Egypt's government, led by President Nasser, was seeking political control over the canal, an effort resisted by the Europeans. Although landing forces quickly established control over major canal facilities, the Egyptians were able to sink obstacles in the canal, rendering it unusable.

Worldwide reaction against Musketeer was massive and negative. The United States led condemnations of the action at the United Nations and in other forums, this marked a sharp break in the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain. Due to political considerations, the Anglo-French forces were withdrawn in December 1956.


When the United States threatened to devalue the British currency (the Pound Sterling), British troops were pulled out of the Suez region, without Israeli or French officials being notified. This caused France to doubt the reliability of their allies, and was a cause for the French withdrawal from NATO shortly afterwards. A few months later, French president René Coty ordered the creation of the brand new military experiments facility C.S.E.M. in the Sahara. It was used by his successor Charles de Gaulle to develop an autonomous nuclear deterrent against the USSRmarker and other potential threats. The French atomic bomb Gerboise Bleuemarker was tested in February 1960. In 1966, de Gaulle further loosened his ties with the Western Allies by leaving NATOmarker.

Military support

Britain had a treaty with Jordan, and had a plan (Cordage) to give assistance to Jordan in the event of an attack by Israel. This led to the First Lord of the Admiralty (Hailsham) sending a memo to Eden on 2 October 1956 proposing the use of the light cruiser HMS Royalist for Cordage as well as Musketeer. HMS Royalist had just been modernised as an anti-aircraft radar picket ship, and was regarded as the most suitable ship for protection against the Mystère fighter-bombers supplied by France to Israel. But HMS Royalist had just been transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy, and New Zealand's Prime Minister Sidney Holland did not in the end allow the Royalist to be used with the British fleet in the Mediterranean for Cordage or Musketeer (where her presence would indicate support by New Zealand). The memo indicates that Hailsham did not know of the negotiations of Eden and Lloyd with France and Israel for concerted moves against Egypt .

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