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  • Larissa Ragonesi

Yemen Apologizes to the UK: “I am sorry if the truth hurts”

This was an article written during BRAMUN 2023 with the perspective of Kyodo News regarding the discussions of the Historical Security Council committee.

The Suez Canal is essential for international commerce. One of its main characteristics is that it provides a shorter route between Asia and Europe and lands around the Indian and Western Pacific oceans. The Canal is a 120-mile-long artificial waterway; it has a tragic history because the conditions of work at the time of construction took the lives of thousands of Egyptian workers. Its location it’s what provides all these benefits: the canal is in Egypt and connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. The construction was supervised by the French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, and financially supported by the shareholders of the Suez Canal Company, which at the time were France, with 55% of the shares, and Egypt, with 42% of the shares. However, in 1875 the Egyptian ruler Khedive Ismail Pasha was forced to sell Egypt’s shares of the company to the United Kingdom because of a national debt crisis; because of this action Egypt no longer had control of the Canal. Since then, France and the United Kingdom have controlled the Suez Canal.

The United Kingdom denied Egypt`s request for independence for a long time, but by February 28th, 1922, they signed a document called Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1922, providing the independence on paper for the country and turning it into a constitutional monarchy. However, the country kept supporting all of the United Kingdom`s interests, leaving its population unsatisfied with its ruler and generating the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which ended all British occupation of Egypt. Afterwards, the government was focused on developing Egypt’s economy, removing the authority of Europeans regarding the Suez Canal – the only European control left in their land – and turning the country into a major power within the region.

The control of The Suez Canal is the main topic of discussion between the countries in the Historical Security Committee. Some Delegates such as Yemen and the USSR are defending that the Canal has Egypt's administration, always talking about its deserved sovereignty and independence from Europe, implying in almost all of their speeches the idea of an equal access for everyone on the Canal. However, delegates such as France and the UK want the Canal to be theirs, contesting that the territory was theirs when it was built. During one of Yemen’s speeches, the delegate pointed out that the UK is a colonizer, so its only interests were against Egypt's sovereignty and freedom. The United Kingdom didn't like it and asked for an apology, calling for the right of reply. Therefore, Yemen stood up and provided their apology: “I am sorry if the truth hurts”.

Everyone was in shock; it was a moment of tension between the delegations, but the committee still proceeded. But it is certain to say that an intrigue was formed at that moment. Yemen is a socialist country just like the Soviet Union, while the UK is a capitalist country like the United States, who also attended the meeting. Both seemed to believe that having influence over Egypt would benefit their country, creating this idea and this objective that Egypt needs to choose between socialism and capitalism even though it’s not the theme discussed. With further discussions, it will be better to know whether these ulterior motives really exist. Was Yemen right after all?

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