Policy Engagements and Blogs

India’s role during the 1956 Suez Crisis: Between peacemaking and postcolonial solidarity

November 20, 2018


The 1956 Suez conflict was not inevitable. The involvement of an impartial third party had offered an exit ramp for the main protagonists. Largely forgotten today, India strove to reconcile the interests of the Westerns powers with Arab nationalism. Displaying creativity and perseverance in attempting to arrest the sudden deterioration in security in its extended neighborhood, India’s unceasing but responsible support for a weaker Arab state in the backdrop of determined Western coercion is a useful illustration for contemporary policymakers who are attempting to craft a sustainable approach towards a tumultuous West Asia. Using previously unused archival documents, this paper adds to the small literature on India’s involvement in this crisis by offering the first detailed account of India’s attempt to prevent the outbreak of hostilities in those fateful months of 1956. By doing so, this article also reveals interest- ing facets of India’s approach to conflict management and regional stability in the 1950s, a role that was predicated on not just promoting strategic restraint between antagonistic states but also enabling conflict resolution options that preserved the vital interests of competing actors.