Eastern Mediterranean 1958: Nasser’s Zenith
In March 1958 Yemen agreed to federate with Nasser’s United Arab Republic. Just four months later, the rival Arab Federation collapsed when pro-Nasser officers overthrew the King of Iraq, prompting the panicking leaders of Lebanon and Jordan to request Western intervention. For a brief moment the dream of pan-Arabism seemed within Nasser’s grasp. However, that moment passed, and in 1961 the United Arab Republic itself would fall apart when the Syrians rejected Nasser’s rule.
8 Mar 1958–26 Dec 1961 United Arab States▲
The United Arab States (UAS) was established on 8 March 1958 when the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen, which had already signed a defense pact with Egypt, federated with the newly-formed United Arab Republic (a union of Egypt and Syria). Although it provided security for Yemen against Saudi Arabia, the UAS was little more than a loose confederation and Yemen remained an independent state and a member of the United Nations. UAS was dissolved in 1961, shortly after the collapse of the United Arab Republic.
14 Jul 1958 14 July Revolution▲
On 14 July 1958 Iraqi troops en route to Jordan via Baghdad rose up under the leadership of pro-Nasser “Free Officers” Adb as-Salam Arif and Abd al-Karim Qasim, seizing control of the capital and killing King Faisal II and his family. Prime Minister Nuri al-Said briefly escaped but was captured and shot the following day. The coup effectively brought an end to the Arab Federation between Iraq and Jordan and led to Iraq’s withdrawal from the Baghdad Pact.
15 Jul–25 Oct 1958 Operation Blue Bat▲
In July 1958 tensions rose in Lebanon when Lebanese Muslims demanded that the government join the newly created United Arab Republic, prompting President Camille Chamoun—who was a Maronite Christian and already alarmed by the 14 July Revolution in Iraq—to request US intervention. In Operation Blue Bat US President Eisenhower responded by landing more than 14,000 troops in Lebanon, while also sending in diplomat Robert D Murphy to push for a compromise. In September the election of moderate Fuad Chehab to the presidency stabilized the country, allowing the US to withdraw.
17 Jul–2 Nov 1958 British Intervention in Jordan▲
Following the brutal overthrow of his cousin, King Faisal II, in Iraq on 14 July 1958, King Hussein of Jordan—at the time united with Iraq in the Arab Federation—appealed to the United States and the United Kingdom for support. The US began an airlift of petroleum into Jordan, while the UK landed troops to stabilize the regime. In August Hussein dissolved the federation with Iraq—which had by that point allied itself to his enemy, the United Arab Republic—but by November the crisis was over and the British were able to withdraw.