Egypt the Cemetery Of the Aggressors: 1957
In 1957, Egypt issued a set of five stamps entitled “Egypt, the cemetery of the aggressors”. This set was issued to celebrate the end of the Suez war (also called: the tripartite aggression).
In 1956, Egypt announced the decision to nationalize the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956. The Suez canal is an artificial waterway of strategic importance, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. Since its digging in Egypt in 1869, it was under the control of a foreign-owned Company.
Following the nationalization of the Canal, Great Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt in October 1956. The war aimed to take the control of the Canal and weaken the regime of the Egyptian president Nasser. The war ended due to the fierce Egyptian resistance and the strong international pressure.
The set of stamps issued in this occasion, represented five important victories of Egyptian troops during history.
Battle against the Hyksos in Avaris in 1580 B.C
Capture of Louis IX of France in Egypt
The historical backgroud
By the end of the twelfth century, Saladin defeated the crusaders in the battle of Hittin and liberated Jerusalem in 1187 A.D.
In 1229, Emperor Frederick II, during the Sixth Crusade, had succeeded in securing the return of the city of Jerusalem to the kingdom of the same name after negotiations with the Ayyubid Emir Al-Kâmil.
On October 1244 AD, the Crusaders launched a massive land attack on Egypt, but they were defeated in Gaza by Prince Rukn al-Din Baybars. This enabled the Muslims to regain full sovereignty over Jerusalem and some of the Crusaders’ strongholds in the Levant.
The European powers became convinced that the main obstacle to their plans in the holy land was Egypt. in 1245, Pope Innocent IV gave his full support to the Seventh Crusade being prepared by Louis IX, King of France.
The seventh Crusade
King Louis IX and two of his brothers, Charles d’Anjou and Robert d’Artois, led the crusaders’s forces. They were joined later by the king’s third brother Alphonse of Poitiers. These forces were mainly french with an English contingent led by William of Salisbury.
After a first important victory were they controlled the port of Damietta, in June 1249, the crusaders were unable to progress in Egypt. In Februray 1250, the crusaders progressed towards the city of Mansourah. But the attacking forces fell into a trap and most of them were decimated, including the King’s brother Robert d’Artois, and the English commander William of Salisbury.
After two months long seige, the crusaders tried to retreat to the Damietta, but were attacked by Egyptian forces. The French King, his brothers and tens of French dignitaries were captured, and tens of thousands of combatants were killed.
Saladdin defeating the crusaders in Hittin
Egyptian army defeating the Mongols in Ain Jalut – Palestine
The Mongol empire emerged in the 13th century in eastern Asia as major power during the rule of Genghis Khan. It expanded rapidly towards central and western Asia and Europe. In few decades, Mongols extended their control over all central Asia and Persia.
After several attacks on Syrian cities starting in 1244, the Mongols besieged Baghdad, occupied and sacked it in 1958. Damascus had a similar fate sometime later. After these victories, the Mongols sent envoys to Cairo demanding the Mamluks, who ruled over Egypt, to surrender.
In anticipation of a Mongol invasion, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, Saif ad-Din Qutuz, prepared an army and entered into Palestine. The Egyptian Mamluk and Mongol armies clashed in a locality in the south of the galilee called Ain Jalut. The Mongols were crushingly defeated by Qutuz’s forces, and the battle of Ain Jalut has been considered a historical turning point in the Mongol invasions.
Franco-British troops leaving Port-Said
After an international agreement, the Anglo-French invading forced had to finish withdrawing by 22 December 1956. The Israeli forces withdrew from Sinai and the Gaza Strip, in March 1957.
The withdrawal of the foreign troops confirmed the Egyptian sovereignty over the Suez Canal. The Egyptian resistance at Port Said become a symbol of Egyptian victory, linked to a global anti-colonial struggle.