WI: Britain intervenes in 1952 Egyptian Revolution

The title pretty much sums it up. There were around 80,000 British soldiers stationed in the Suez Canal Zone at the time, over five times the number who were deployed to Korea at the height of British involvement. The early 50s were a time of terrorist attacks on British forces in the Suez Canal Zone, which could be used as part of the justification to intervene. King Farouk was a staunch British ally, and there was a much larger network of pro-British civil and military officials in Egypt at this time.

So, what happens if the British attempt to restore order in Egypt in 1952?
 
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One of the many reasons not to do this was that the US would oppose it strongly. It saw the Free Officers as pro-Western (which was not necessarily wrong at the time):

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"Washington was well aware that many Arab regimes were quite unstable in the early 1950s. In Egypt, a dissolute king, quarreling politicians, extreme poverty beside a complacent elite, popular dissatisfaction, and growing extremist leftist and Islamic groups combined in a volatile mix. "Talk of a coup d'etat is in the air," wrote U.S. Ambassador Jefferson Caffery in November 1950. The West's prime security interest in Egypt was preserving the sprawling British Suez Canal base for use in time of war or crisis. Secretary of State Dean Acheson urged Anglo-Egyptian cooperation rather than confrontation. Egypt, stung by past British interference in internal affairs, preferred the departure of British troops and the transfer of the base to its own control. When Cairo abrogated the Anglo-Egyptian treaty in October 1951, Washington supported Britain but urged the British to accept a compromise solution.

"Acheson was appalled at Prime Minister Winston Churchill's preference for military responses. When massive riots broke out in Cairo in January 1952, Washington refused Churchill's request for U.S. forces to help squelch the unrest. Acheson replied that the base could not be maintained against the Egyptians' wishes. To solve the impasse, the United States suggested the creation of the Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO), designed to integrate Egypt and the Suez base into a collective security pact. A "Northern Tier" pact was a fallback option. Failure to resolve the Anglo-Egyptian stalemate, warned Assistant Secretary of State Henry Byroade in July 1952, "would lead to riots and disorders which the Egyptian authorities might not be able to control." American influence, he urged, must help produce a compromise. Just forty-eight hours later, Nasser's Free Officers overthrew Egypt's monarchy.

"The United States had some knowledge of but little involvement with the coup. The CIA's Kermit Roosevelt visited Cairo shortly after the January riots, and U.S. officials still hoped that a strong prime minister might take matters in hand. In late March, however, Roosevelt learned of the planned revolution and of Nasser's role as leader of the Free Officers, a group that the U.S. embassy had considered a purely reformist organization concerned only with military affairs. A few hours after the takeover, Major Ali Sabry, one of the plotters, contacted his friend Lieutenant Colonel David Evans, a U.S. military attache, with a message from the new revolutionary council. Its sentiments were pro-Western, Sabry announced, and he requested that the Americans block any British intervention. When King Farouk personally called the American and British embassies to request help, both refused. The revolution had triumphed.. .

"In his first evaluation of the new regime, Ambassador Caffery considered the Free Officers to be an amorphous group without any program, "bound together by common disgust with their superiors." Their figurehead leader, the popular General Muhammad Naguib, was not "a particularly strong or intelligent leader."' Nevertheless, the officers seemed friendly to the United States and expressed a desire to take part in the Middle East's defense. Britain quickly offered military aid in exchange for settling the base issue. Caffery was generally optimistic: the United States should not rush Egypt toward an acceptance of MEDO, he suggested, but it should help Cairo build an effective and inexpensive military force for protecting the country.

"As predicted, the new Egyptian government began to court the United States. .."

Barry Rubin, "America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957," Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 97, No. 1 (Spring, 1982), pp. 73-90 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2149315

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As I wrote here some time ago, "If the monarchy was unpopular and would be made even more so by British intervention to save it from immediate overthrow, it certainly seemed better to acquiesce in the Free Officers coming to power than to let the opposition to the monarchy find its outlets in the Communists or the Muslim Brotherhood."
 
One of the many reasons not to do this was that the US would oppose it strongly. It saw the Free Officers as pro-Western (which was not necessarily wrong at the time):

***

"Washington was well aware that many Arab regimes were quite unstable in the early 1950s. In Egypt, a dissolute king, quarreling politicians, extreme poverty beside a complacent elite, popular dissatisfaction, and growing extremist leftist and Islamic groups combined in a volatile mix. "Talk of a coup d'etat is in the air," wrote U.S. Ambassador Jefferson Caffery in November 1950. The West's prime security interest in Egypt was preserving the sprawling British Suez Canal base for use in time of war or crisis. Secretary of State Dean Acheson urged Anglo-Egyptian cooperation rather than confrontation. Egypt, stung by past British interference in internal affairs, preferred the departure of British troops and the transfer of the base to its own control. When Cairo abrogated the Anglo-Egyptian treaty in October 1951, Washington supported Britain but urged the British to accept a compromise solution.

"Acheson was appalled at Prime Minister Winston Churchill's preference for military responses. When massive riots broke out in Cairo in January 1952, Washington refused Churchill's request for U.S. forces to help squelch the unrest. Acheson replied that the base could not be maintained against the Egyptians' wishes. To solve the impasse, the United States suggested the creation of the Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO), designed to integrate Egypt and the Suez base into a collective security pact. A "Northern Tier" pact was a fallback option. Failure to resolve the Anglo-Egyptian stalemate, warned Assistant Secretary of State Henry Byroade in July 1952, "would lead to riots and disorders which the Egyptian authorities might not be able to control." American influence, he urged, must help produce a compromise. Just forty-eight hours later, Nasser's Free Officers overthrew Egypt's monarchy.

"The United States had some knowledge of but little involvement with the coup. The CIA's Kermit Roosevelt visited Cairo shortly after the January riots, and U.S. officials still hoped that a strong prime minister might take matters in hand. In late March, however, Roosevelt learned of the planned revolution and of Nasser's role as leader of the Free Officers, a group that the U.S. embassy had considered a purely reformist organization concerned only with military affairs. A few hours after the takeover, Major Ali Sabry, one of the plotters, contacted his friend Lieutenant Colonel David Evans, a U.S. military attache, with a message from the new revolutionary council. Its sentiments were pro-Western, Sabry announced, and he requested that the Americans block any British intervention. When King Farouk personally called the American and British embassies to request help, both refused. The revolution had triumphed.. .

"In his first evaluation of the new regime, Ambassador Caffery considered the Free Officers to be an amorphous group without any program, "bound together by common disgust with their superiors." Their figurehead leader, the popular General Muhammad Naguib, was not "a particularly strong or intelligent leader."' Nevertheless, the officers seemed friendly to the United States and expressed a desire to take part in the Middle East's defense. Britain quickly offered military aid in exchange for settling the base issue. Caffery was generally optimistic: the United States should not rush Egypt toward an acceptance of MEDO, he suggested, but it should help Cairo build an effective and inexpensive military force for protecting the country.

"As predicted, the new Egyptian government began to court the United States. .."

Barry Rubin, "America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957," Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 97, No. 1 (Spring, 1982), pp. 73-90 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2149315

***
As I wrote here some time ago, "If the monarchy was unpopular and would be made even more so by British intervention to save it from immediate overthrow, it certainly seemed better to acquiesce in the Free Officers coming to power than to let the opposition to the monarchy find its outlets in the Communists or the Muslim Brotherhood."
Apparently in OTL, the Americans were prepared to tacitly accept the British intervention in the Suez in 1957 as a fait accompli, if the British had finished the job. The American Secretary of State himself is quoted saying as much.

Given that during 1952, British soldiers are deployed advancing American interests propping up a client regime in Korea...I'm not sure that American protestations would be more salient in 1952 than they were in 1957.
 
Apparently in OTL, the Americans were prepared to tacitly accept the British intervention in the Suez in 1957 as a fait accompli, if the British had finished the job. The American Secretary of State himself is quoted saying as much.

Given that during 1952, British soldiers are deployed advancing American interests propping up a client regime in Korea...I'm not sure that American protestations would be more salient in 1952 than they were in 1957.

Ike's actions sure don't look like acceptance, tacit or otherwise, to me... https://books.google.com/books?id=aG2LDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA94 But to get back to 1952: The Free Officers were simply not seen as anti-Western at the time, either by the US or the UK. Farouk was unpopular, an attempt to bring him back by force would make him more so and likely lead to mass disorder, and the alternatives to the Free Officers were worse (the Communists or the Muslim Brotherhood). The UK simply had no overriding reason not to go along with the US in 1952.
 
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Ike's actions sure don't look like acceptance, tacit or otherwise, to me... https://books.google.com/books?id=aG2LDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA94 But to get back to 1952: The Free Officers were simply not seen as anti-Western at the time, either by the US or the UK. Farouk was unpopular, an attempt to bring him back by force would make him more so and likely lead to mass disorder, and the alternatives to the Free Officers were worse (the Communists or the Muslim Brotherhood). The UK simply had no overriding reason not to go along with the US in 1952.

Well, in 1957, they hadn't yet finished the job. Back in 1952, I think you're wrong on UK interests in the matter. The Free Officers may have been "pro-Western" in the sense that they were not communists (and even that is an oversimplification, there were communists in the movement, and several of the eponymous officers did have links to the Soviet Union, at the time), and occasionally said nice things about Americans, but they were clearly anti-British.

The 1952 revolution kicked off with a series of terrorist attacks on British troops in Egypt. The British military, aided by the Egyptian police responded by retaliating against anti-British paramilitaries. Unfortunately, this led to the deaths of some Egyptian officers at the hands of the British. This led the Free Officers to set Cairo ablaze, both through fomenting anti-British riots and also through targeted terrorist attacks on British assets in Cairo. During these "fiery protests", mobs attempting to seek out and kill as many Westerners, believing they were all British, as they could find.

The very first act of these new Free Officers was to order the British to withdraw their troops from Egypt (which did not at this stage include the Suez Canal Zone). It was clearly anti-British, and an unwelcome development for British interests in Egypt.
 
Ike's actions sure don't look like acceptance, tacit or otherwise, to me... https://books.google.com/books?id=aG2LDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA94 But to get back to 1952: The Free Officers were simply not seen as anti-Western at the time, either by the US or the UK. Farouk was unpopular, an attempt to bring him back by force would make him more so and likely lead to mass disorder, and the alternatives to the Free Officers were worse (the Communists or the Muslim Brotherhood). The UK simply had no overriding reason not to go along with the US in 1952.

This is the quote from Dulles I mentioned earlier. It was a pain to find again. Sorry for the delay.
 

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