British MP makes new call for apology to Egypt over Suez

In this photo taken on November 5, 1956, smoke rises from oil tanks beside the Suez Canal that were hit in an air strike during the initial Anglo-French assault on Port Said, Egypt. (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated 22 November 2017

British MP makes new call for apology to Egypt over Suez

LONDON: A British MP has made a call for the UK to apologize to Egypt for the 1956 Suez Crisis as it looks to form a “new relationship” with Cairo.

Britain’s position on the global stage was forever altered by its invasion, along with France and Israel, of Egypt in an attempt to wrestle back control of the canal. It later withdrew.

Daniel Kawczynski, an MP for Shrewsbury, said that the move was an “disaster” and “illegal mistake” and issued a call for a formal apology.

“It would be very magnanimous of us as British politicians now, 60 years on, to say ‘Suez was a mistake, we made a mistake, we apologize for that … We ask the Egyptian people for their forgiveness for the mistake that we made, and we ask them to now work with us in a new relationship.’ It takes a lot of guts for a country as large and important as ours (to apologize),” he told Arab News.

Kawczynski said that he would be raising the issue in the UK Parliament.

“There’s a lot of reticence about this issue in the House of Commons. I think there are many people who want to brush this under the carpet, who believe that too much water has flown under the bridge, and that we should just focus on bilateral relations today,” he said.

“But I’ve got some very good trusted Egyptian friends who say to me that this issue would demonstrate to the Egyptian people that the UK is serious about a new relationship with their country.”

The MP also raised the issue of the World War II land mines that British fighters left behind in the Battle of El-Alamein.

The mines have caused more than 8,000 causalities in Egypt since World War II and have led to calls for European forces to hand over maps of where they were planted. Some have argued, however, that the maps would not be of use because of the shifting sands of the Egyptian desert.

Kawczynski said he plans to “ask questions of the government as to what work is being done” to help identify where the mines are buried.

“El-Alamein is strewn with an inordinate amount of mines. And if there is even one death a year in El-Alamein as a result of these mines not being fully mapped, that is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Kawczynski called on the UK government to hand over the maps.

“It’s hugely important. I don’t understand the strategic importance, 70 years on (in not handing over the maps). We ought to be giving as much information to our Egyptian partners as possible to make sure that they know where all these mines are,” he said.

“The idea that our land mines today are causing the deaths of Egyptian citizens … because of a lack of cooperation and engagement between the British government and the Egyptian government on this issue is completely unacceptable.”

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Egyptian tomb reveals its secrets after 4,400 years in ‘find of the decades’

Guests enter a newly discovered tomb, belonging to the high priest ‘Wahtye,’ who served during the 5th dynasty reign of King Neferirkare (2500-2300 BC), at the Saqqara necropolis, 30 km from Cairo, on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 56 min 35 sec ago

Egyptian tomb reveals its secrets after 4,400 years in ‘find of the decades’

  • They expect to make more discoveries when they excavate those on Sunday
  • The priest’s tomb “is exceptionally well preserved, colored, with sculpture inside”

CAIRO: Egyptian archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a priest dating back more than 4,400 years in the pyramid complex of Saqqara south of Cairo.

The tomb belongs to Wahtye, a high priest who served during the fifth-dynasty reign of King Neferirkare. It is decorated with scenes showing the royal priest alongside his mother, wife and other members of his family.

It also contains more than a dozen niches and 24 statues of the priest and members of his family.

The priest’s tomb “is exceptionally well preserved, colored, with sculpture inside. It belongs to a high official priest,” Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said.

The tomb was found in a buried ridge at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara. It was untouched and unlooted, said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. He described the find as “one of a kind in the last decades.”

Archaeologists removed a last layer of debris from the tomb on Thursday and found five shafts inside, Waziri said. 

They expect to make more discoveries when they excavate those on Sunday.

“I can imagine that all of the objects can be found in this area,” he said, pointing at one of the shafts. “This should lead to a coffin or a sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb.”

The fifth dynasty ruled Egypt from about 2,500 to 2,350 BC, not long after the great pyramid of Giza was built. Saqqara was the necropolis for Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt for more than two millennia.