CAIRO: Egypt marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark nationalization of the Suez Canal on Wednesday amid simmering Arab anger over Israel s punishing military offensive in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Celebrations were expected to be low key and the mood somber, in stark contrast with the wave of Arab nationalism that swept the region when former Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser seized the waterway from Britain on July 26, 1956. Newspapers drew parallels between the atmosphere of popular discontent toward Arab regimes before Nasser toppled the British-backed monarchy in 1952 and the rage currently felt in the region over Israel s actions. The Arab nation needs a new Nasser to unify it. The glory of Gamal Abdel Nasser s era is cruelly absent from our divided nation, wrote the liberal daily Al-Wafd in its Tuesday edition. Much of the opposition has spotlighted Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese leader of the Hezbollah movement that triggered Israel s onslaught by capturing two soldiers two weeks ago, as the man who will restore Arab pride. The Nasserist Karama weekly published a full-page picture of the Shiite militant leader with a caption that read Nasrallah, in Nasser s footsteps. Another opposition weekly, Al-Arabi, published an entire supplement entitled: Nasser 1956 – Nasrallah 2006: We will fight and not surrender. Until his last gasp, Abdel Nasser refused to be corrupted … Nasrallah is the same, he is not talking about peace but about war. He does not negotiate and seeks to recover lost national pride, Al-Arabi editorialist Mohammed Al-Baz said. Nasser s soft coup to take over the Suez company 50 years ago triggered a military offensive by an alliance comprising Israel, France and Britain that had lasting consequences on the world s geopolitical map. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, Nasser s audacious decision to seize one of the world s most crucial hubs for oil shipments ruffled the West, where Nasser was compared to Hitler. After fruitless negotiations over the summer of 1956, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula on October 29, while French and British planes began bombing Egypt two days later in what became known as the Suez Crisis. Nasser retaliated by sinking all 40 ships present at the time in the canal, which remained closed until early 1957. British and French troops seized control of the canal, but the United States, keen to preserve its legitimacy when criticizing the Soviet Union s own intervention in Hungary, imposed a ceasefire and the invading forces withdrew in March 1957. The crisis resulted in the resignation of then British premier Anthony Eden and completed the demise of France and Britain as global powers, to the benefit of Washington and Moscow. The canal, whose construction was supervised by French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, was inaugurated in 1869. It is the third largest source of revenue for Egypt s economy after tourism and remittances from expatriate workers. With global oil consumption still rising and trade with China booming, revenues from Suez transit fees earned by Egypt have climbed steadily to reach a record $3.4 billion (LE 19.5 billion) in 2005.