The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Brits planned to cut off Nile in 1956

Freshly released from Her British Majesty's National Archives:

Military officials believed they could harm agriculture and cut communications by reducing the flow of water, newly-released documents show.

The plan was outlined to Prime Minister Anthony Eden six weeks before British and French forces invaded Egypt.

But it was abandoned because of fears it would trigger a violent backlash.

Under the plan, Britain would have used a dam in Uganda to reduce water levels in the White Nile by seven-eighths.

But planners realised that the scheme would take months to work, and could also harm other states such as Kenya and Uganda.

One British official noted that the plan, while unworkable, could still be useful.

"It might be possible to spread the word among the more illiterate Egyptians that 'unless Nasser climbs down, Britain will cut off the Nile'," Cabinet official John Hunt was revealed to have said.
So basically their idea was, hey, maybe if we start a famine in Egypt it will bring down Nasser. Real classy.