The Suez Canal is a man-made sea-level waterway in Egypt that connects the Mediterranean and Red Sea via the Isthmus of Suez. It is frequently used to mark the boundary between Africa and Asia. The Suez Canal Company built it between 1859 and 1869, and it opened on November 17, 1869.
- Suez Canal is a sea-level waterway in Egypt that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea via the Isthmus of Suez. It runs from the city of Suez's northern terminus of ‘Port Said’ to the southern terminus of ‘Port Tewfik’.
The places from north to south lies as:
- Port Said
- El Ballah Bypass
- Lake Timsah
- Great Bitter Lake
- City of Suez
- The Egyptian Suez Canal Authority (SCA) owns and maintains the canal.
- Under the Constantinople Convention, it may be used by any vessel of commerce or war, regardless of flag, in times of war as well as in times of peace.
- Between 1854 and 1856, Ferdinand de Lesseps obtained permission from Sa'id Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan, to establish a company to build a canal open to ships from all nations.
- The canal was to be operated by the company for 99 years after it opened. De Lesseps had taken advantage of his friendly relationship with Sa'id, which he had built while serving as a French diplomat in the 1830s.
- According to the concessions, Ferdinand convened the International Commission for the Piercing of the Isthmus of Suez, which included 13 experts from seven countries, and the canal's route was determined.
- The Suez Canal Company was founded on December 15, 1858.
- Although the British initially opposed the canal's construction, they eventually became a major shareholder in the Suez Canal Company. The French made up the majority of the stockholders.
IMPORTANCE OF SUEZ CANAL
- The canal connected Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, as well as Africa and Asia. Before the canal was built, ships travelling from Asia to Europe and vice versa had to circumnavigate Africa's southern tip, the Cape of Good Hope, to reach either continent.
- The canal provides a more direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans via the Mediterranean and Red seas, avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans and cutting the distance between the Arabian Sea and London by about 8900 kilometres.
- The canal provided direct access to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean trade routes, allowing goods to be shipped more directly between Europe and Asia.
- The Suez Canal's importance to international trade made it a source of contention among Egypt's neighbours, and by the 1950s, the canal had piqued the interest of the world's superpowers.
NATIONALIZATION OF SUEZ CANAL
- In July 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser decided to nationalise the Suez Canal.
- The decision to nationalise the canal caused friction between the French and the British. Despite Nasser's promise to compensate the canal's previous owners fairly, the British and French devised a plan with the Israelis to reclaim the canal from Egyptian control.
- Each country had a personal score to settle with Egypt, specifically with Nasser, in addition to fighting for economic value.
- France was enraged by Egypt's support for Algerian insurgents fighting French colonial authority.
- The loss of British influence as a result of Nasser's pan-Arab policy infuriated Britain.
- There were sporadic border clashes between Israel and the Egyptian army. Furthermore, the Egyptian leader's contempt for Israel's existence did not help matters.
SUEZ CRISIS 1956-1957
- Nationalisation was a major contributor to the crisis.
- On October 29, 1956, the Israeli army struck first, with the British and French forces following suit later due to transportation delays.
- The offensive was successful, with British and French forces capturing Port Said and Port Fuad, and the Sinai Peninsula effectively under Israeli control.
- The Egyptian forces lost complete control of the canal area during the joint offensive, and it appeared that the canal would be lost, but Nasser rallied his country's army and fought on.
- The Egyptians' allies, the Soviet Union, had time to respond due to the offensive's delay. The Egyptian army received arms and ammunition from the Soviet Union, which was eager to gain influence in the Middle East.
- Nikita Khruschev, the Soviet leader, weighed in at a UN Security Council meeting called to address the crisis. He even threatened to launch nuclear missiles at Western Europe if the Israeli-French-British force did not withdraw in a timely manner.
- The US retaliated by criticising the Soviets for their reckless talk of nuclear war.
- The US threatened Israel, the United Kingdom, and France with economic sanctions.
- This worked, and the British and French forces withdrew by December 1956, leaving the Israelis to control the canal's western side until March 1957.
- The Suez Crisis was the first time a UN peacekeeping force was deployed. The United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was an armed force sent to the region to oversee the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of the three occupying forces.
AFTERMATH OF CRISIS
- Following the Suez Crisis, Britain and France, once the seat of empires, saw their influence as world powers wane as the United States and the Soviet Union gained a stronger foothold in international affairs.
- The crisis may have hastened decolonization, as many of the remaining British and French colonies gained independence in the years following the crisis.
- Nasser became a powerful hero in the Arab and Egyptian nationalist movements as a result of the crisis.
- While Israel did not gain access to the canal, it was granted permission to ship goods through the Tiran Straits once more.
- Following the Six-Day War, Egypt closed the canal ten years later (June 1967). For nearly a decade, the Suez Canal served as a battleground between Israeli and Egyptian forces.
- Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat reopened the Suez Canal in 1975 as a peace gesture. Every year, around 300 million tonnes of goods pass through the canal.
In August 2015, Egypt completed a major expansion of the canal, deepening the main waterway and providing ships with a 22-mile parallel channel. For the first time, the expansion allows for two-way traffic along a portion of the route, as well as the passage of larger vessels.
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