The most pressing problem facing the Conservatives when they regained office in 1951 was the tense situation in Egypt, which was soon to enter a new, more violent phase. In January 1952, the Egyptian guerrillas launched a foolhardy attack on the British base at Tel-el-Kebir. The British occupied Ismailia in retribution, and when they attacked the police headquarters there, fifty Egyptians were killed and another one hundred injured. On the following “Black Saturday,” mobs in Cairo went on the rampage in an orgy of murder, arson, and looting. King Farouk delayed before sending the army in to restore order, and lacking American support, the British decided not to intervene. Within a few months the king and the Wafd (the Egyptian Nationalist Party) were sent packing by the “free officers” led by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, the real power behind Egypt’s new ruler, General Mohammed Neguib.
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