The first starts at 0.00 h from Port Said, and anchors in the Great Bitter Lake to let the Northbound pass. The second Southbound convoy starts at 07.00 h from Port Said and anchors in the western Ballah by-pass to let the Northbound convoy pass. Due to the Ballah canal dimensions, this convoy only has smaller and often unloaded ships. Sony VPCCA15FA/G battery
The main alternative is travelling around Cape Agulhas at the south end of the African continent, commonly referred as the Cape of Good Hope route. This was the only route before the canal was constructed, and—more recently—when the canal was closed. It is still the only route for ships which are too large for the canal. In the early 21st century the long route has enjoyed decreased popularity because of increasing piracy in Somalia. Sony VPCCA15FA/L battery
Between 2008 and 2010, it is estimated that the canal has lost 10% of traffic due to the threat of piracy, and another 10% due to the financial crisis. An oil tanker going from Saudi Arabia to the United States has 2,700 miles longer to go when taking the route south of Africa rather than the canal.
Before the canal's opening in 1869 goods were sometimes offloaded from ships and carried overland between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Sony VPCCA15FA/P battery
In recent years, the shrinking Arctic sea ice has also made the Northern Sea Route feasible for commercial cargo ships plying between Europe and East Asia during a six-to-eight week window in the summer months, shaving off thousands of miles from the voyage compared to the Suez Canal. Sony VPCCA15FA/W battery
According to polar climate researchers, as the extent of the Arctic summer ice pack recedes, the route will become passable without the help of icebreakers for a greater period each summer.
The Bremen-based Beluga Group claimed in 2009 to be the first Western company to attempt crossing the Northern Sea Route for shipping without assistance from icebreakers, cutting 4000 nautical miles off the journey between Ulsan, Korea andRotterdam, the Netherlands. Sony VPCCA15FF/B battery
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 created the first salt-water passage between the Mediterranean and Red seas. Although the Red Sea is about 1.2 m (4 ft) higher than the eastern Mediterranean, the current between the Mediterranean and the middle of the canal at the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. Sony VPCCA15FF/G battery
The current south of the Bitter Lakes is tidal, varying with the height of tide at Suez. The Bitter Lakes, which were hypersaline natural lakes, blocked the migration of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean for many decades, but as the salinity of the lakes gradually equalised with that of the Red Sea, the barrier to migration was removed, Sony VPCCA15FF/L battery
and plants and animals from the Red Sea have begun to colonise the eastern Mediterranean. The Red Sea is generally saltier and more nutrient-poor than the Atlantic, so the Red Sea species have advantages over Atlantic species in the salty and nutrient-poor eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly, most Red Sea species invade the Mediterranean biota, and only few do the opposite. Sony VPCCA15FF/P battery
This migratory phenomenon is called Lessepsian migration (after Ferdinand de Lesseps) or "Erythrean invasion". Also impacting the eastern Mediterranean, starting in 1968, was the operation of Aswan High Dam across the River Nile. While providing for increased human development, the project both reduced the inflow of freshwater and ended all natural nutrient-rich silt from entering the eastern Mediterranean at the adjacent Nile Delta. Sony VPCCA15FF/W battery
This provided less natural dilution of Mediterranean salinity and ended the higher levels of natural turbidity, additionally making conditions more like those in the Red Sea.
Invasive species originated from the Red Sea and introduced into the Mediterranean by the construction of the canal have become a major component of the Mediterranean ecosystem, Sony VPCCA15FG battery
and have serious impacts on the Mediterranean ecology, endangering many local andendemic Mediterranean species. Currently about 300 species from the Red Sea have been identified in the Mediterranean Sea, and there are probably others yet unidentified. The Egyptian government's intent to enlarge the canal has raised concerns from marine biologists, fearing that this will worsen the invasion of Red Sea species in the Mediterranean. Sony VPCCA15FG/B battery
Construction of the Suez Canal was preceded by cutting a small fresh-water canal from the Nile delta along Wadi Tumilat to the future canal, with a southern branch to Suez and a northern branch to Port Said. Completed in 1863, these brought fresh water to a previously arid area, initially for canal construction, and subsequently facilitating growth of agriculture and settlements along the canal. Sony VPCCA15FG/D battery
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War, or Second Arab-Israeli War (Arabic: أزمة السويس / العدوان الثلاثي Azmat al-Suways / al-ʻUdwān al-Thulāthī , "Suez Crisis"/ "the Tripartite Aggression"; French: Crise du canal de Suez; Hebrew: מבצע קדש Mivtza' Kadesh "Operation Kadesh," orמלחמת סיני Milẖemet Sinai, "Sinai War"), Sony VPCCA15FG/G battery
was a diplomatic and military confrontation in late 1956 between Egypt on one side, and Britain, France and Israel on the other, with the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Nations playing major roles in forcing Britain, France and Israel to withdraw.
The attack followed the President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser's decision of 26 July 1956 to nationalize the Suez Canal, Sony VPCCA15FG/P battery
after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam, which was in response to Egypt's new ties with the Soviet Union and recognizing the People's Republic of Chinaduring the height of tensions between China and Taiwan. The aims of the attack were primarily to regain Western control of the canal and to remove Nasser from power, and the crisis highlighted the danger that Arab nationalism posed to Western access to Middle East oil. Sony VPCCA15FG/R battery
Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel, and then began to bomb Cairo. Despite the denials of the Israeli, British, and French governments, allegations began to emerge that the invasion of Egypt had been planned beforehand by the three powers. Sony VPCCA15FG/W battery
Anglo-French forces withdrew before the end of the year, but Israeli forces remained until March 1957, prolonging the crisis. In April, the canal was fully reopened to shipping, but other repercussions followed.
The three allies, especially Israel, were mainly successful in attaining their immediate military objectives, Sony VPCCA15FH/B battery
but pressure from the United States and the USSR at the United Nations and elsewhere forced them to withdraw. As a result of the outside pressure Britain and France failed in their political and strategic aims of controlling the canal and removing Nasser from power. Israel fulfilled some of its objectives, such as attaining freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran. Sony VPCCA15FH/G battery
As a result of the conflict, the UNEF would police the Egyptian–Israeli border to prevent both sides from recommencing hostilities.
The Suez Canal was opened in 1869, after ten years of work financed by the French and Egyptian governments. Sony VPCCA15FH/L battery
The canal was operated by the Universal Company of the Suez Maritime Canal, an Egyptian-chartered company; the area surrounding the canal remained sovereign Egyptian territory and the only land-bridge between Africa and Asia.
The canal instantly became strategically important; it provided the shortest ocean link between theMediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Sony VPCCA15FH/P battery
The canal eased commerce for trading nations and particularly helped European colonial powers to gain and govern their colonies.
In 1875, as a result of debt and financial crisis, the Egyptian ruler was forced to sell his shares in the canal operating company to the British government of Benjamin Disraeli. Sony VPCCA15FH/W battery
They were willing buyers and obtained a 44% share in the canal's operations for less than £4 million; this maintained the majority shareholdings of the mostly French private investors. With the 1882 invasion and occupation of Egypt, the United Kingdom took de facto control of the country as well as the canal proper, and its finances and operations. Sony VPCCA15FW/B battery
The 1888 Convention of Constantinople declared the canal a neutral zone under British protection. In ratifying it, the Ottoman Empire agreed to permit international shipping to pass freely through the canal, in time of war and peace. The Convention came into force in 1904, the same year as the Entente cordiale, between Britain and France. Sony VPCCA15FW/D battery
Despite this convention, the strategic importance of the Suez Canal and its control were proven during theRusso-Japanese War of 1904–1905, after Japan and Britain entered into a separate bilateral agreement. Following the Japanese surprise attack on the Russian Pacific Fleet based at Port Arthur the Russians sent reinforcements from their fleet in the Baltic Sea. Sony VPCCA15FW/P battery
The British denied the Russian fleet use of the canal and forced it to steam around the entire continent of Africa, giving the Japanese forces time to solidify their position in the Far East.
The importance of the canal as a strategic intersection was again apparent during the First World War, when Britain and France closed the canal to non-Alliedshipping. Sony VPCCA15FW/W battery
The attempt by German-Ottoman forces to storm the Canal in February 1915 led the British to commit 100,000 troops to the defense of Egypt for the rest of the First World War. The canal continued to be strategically important after the Second World War as a conduit for the shipment of oil. Petroleum business historian Daniel Yergin wrote of the period: Sony VPCCA15FX/W battery
"In 1948, the canal abruptly lost its traditional rationale.... [British] control over the canal could no longer be preserved on grounds that it was critical to the defence either of India or of an empire that was being liquidated. And yet, at exactly the same moment, the canal was gaining a new role – as the highway not of empire, but of oil.... Sony VPCCA16EC battery
By 1955, petroleum accounted for half of the canal's traffic, and, in turn, two thirds of Europe's oil passed through it.
At the time, Western Europe imported two million barrels (bbls) per day from the Middle East, 1,200,000 by tanker through the Canal, and another 800,000 via pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, where tankers received it. Sony VPCCA16EC/P battery
The US imported another 300,000 bbls. daily from the Middle East. Though pipelines linked the oil fields of Iraq and the Persian Gulf states to the Mediterranean, these routes were prone to suffer from instability, which led British leaders to prefer to use the sea route through the Suez Canal. As it was, the rise of super-tankers for shipping Middle East oil to Europe, Sony VPCCA16FG/B battery
which were too big to use the Suez Canal meant that British policy-makers greatly overestimated the importance of the canal. By 2000, only 8% of the imported oil in Britain arrived via the Suez canal with the rest coming via the Cape route.
In August 1956 the Royal Institute of International Affairs published a report titled "Britain and the Suez Canal" revealing government perception of the Suez area. Sony VPCCA16FG/W battery
It reiterates several times the strategic necessity of the Suez Canal to the United Kingdom, including the need to meet military obligations under theManila Pact in the Far East and the Baghdad Pact in Iraq, Iran, or Pakistan. The report also points out how the canal was used in past wars and could be used in future wars to transport troops from the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand in the event of war in Europe. Sony VPCCA16FH/B battery
The report also cites the amount of material and oil which passes through the canal to the United Kingdom, and the economic consequences of the canal being put out of commission, concluding:The possibility of the Canal being closed to troopships makes the question of the control and regime of the Canal as important to Britain today as it ever was. Sony VPCCA16FW/W battery
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Britain was reassessing its role in the region in light of the severe economic constraints and its colonial history. The economic potential of the Middle East, with its vast oil reserves, as well as the Suez Canal's geo-strategic importance against the background of the Cold War, prompted Britain to consolidate and strengthen its position there. Sony VPCCA17EC battery
The kingdoms of Egypt and Iraq were seen as vital to maintaining strong British influence in the region.
Britain's military strength was spread throughout the region, including the vast military complex at Suez with a garrison of some 80,000, making it one of the largest military installations in the world. The Suez base was considered an important part of Britain's strategic position in the Middle East; Sony VPCCA17EC/W battery
however, increasingly it became a source of growing tension in Anglo-Egyptian relations. Egypt's post-war domestic politics were experiencing a radical change, prompted in no small part by economic instability, inflation, and unemployment. Unrest began to manifest itself in the growth of radical political groups, Sony VPCCA17FX/D battery
such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and an increasingly hostile attitude towards Britain and her presence in the country. Added to this anti-British fervour was the role Britain had played in the creation of Israel. As a result, the actions of the Egyptian government began to mirror those of its populace and an anti-British policy began to permeate Egypt's relations with Britain. Sony VPCCA17FX/G battery
In October 1951, the Egyptian government unilaterally abrogated the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, the terms of which granted Britain a lease on the Suez base for 20 more years. Britain refused to withdraw from Suez, relying upon its treaty rights, as well as the sheer presence of the Suez garrison. Sony VPCCA18EC battery
The price of such a course of action was a steady escalation in increasingly violent hostility towards Britain and British troops in Egypt, which the Egyptian authorities did little to curb.
On 25 January 1952, British attempts to disarm a troublesome auxiliary police force barracks in Ismailia resulted in the deaths of 41 Egyptians. Sony VPCCA18EC/D battery
This in turn led to anti-Western riots in Cairo resulting in heavy damage to property and the deaths of several foreigners, including 11 British citizens. This proved to be a catalyst for the removal of the Egyptian monarchy. On 23 July 1952 a military coup by the 'Free Officers Movement'—led by Muhammad Neguib and future Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser—overthrew King Farouk and established an Egyptian republic. Sony VPCCA190 battery
Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, cargo shipments to and from Israel had been subject to Egyptian authorization, search and seizure while attempting to pass through the Suez Canal. On 1 September 1951, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 95 called upon Egypt: "... to terminate the restrictions on the passage of international commercial ships and goods through the Suez Canal, Sony VPCCA1AFJ battery
wherever bound, and to cease all interference with such shipping." This interference and confiscation, contrary to the laws of the canal (Article 1 of the 1888 Suez Canal Convention), increased following the coup.
Britain's desire to mend Anglo-Egyptian relations in the wake of the coup saw her strive for rapprochement throughout 1953 and 1954. Sony VPCCA1AGJ battery
Part of this process was the agreement, in 1953, to terminate British rule in Sudan by 1956 in return for Cairo's abandoning of its claim to suzerainty over the Nile Valley region. In October 1954, Britain and Egypt concluded an agreement on the phased evacuation of British troops from the Suez base, the terms of which agreed to withdrawal of all troops within 20 months, Sony VPCCA1AHJ battery
maintenance of the base to be continued, and for Britain to hold the right to return for seven years. The Suez Canal Company was not due to revert to the Egyptian government until 16 November 1968 under the terms of the treaty.
In the 1950s the Middle East was dominated by four different but overlapping struggles, each distinct from the other, but linked in various ways. Sony VPCCA1C5E battery
The first was the geopolitical struggle for influence between the United States and the Soviet Union known as the Cold War. The second was the struggle between various Arab nationalists against the two remaining imperial powers, Britain and France. The third was the Arab-Israeli dispute, and the fourth was the struggle between different Arab states for the leadership of the Arab world, known as the Arab Cold War. Sony VPCCA1S1C/CN1 battery
In regard to the latter, particularly venomous was the feud between Nasser and the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nuri el-Said, for Arab leadership, with the Cairo-based Voice of the Arabs radio station regularly calling for the overthrow of the government in Baghdad. The most important factors that drove Egyptian foreign policy in this period was on the one hand, Sony VPCCA1S1E battery
a determination to see the entire Middle East as Egypt's rightful sphere of influence, and on the other, a tendency on the part of Nasser to fortify his pan-Arabist and nationalist credibility by seeking to oppose any and all Western security initiatives in the Near East.
Despite the establishment of such an agreement with the British, Nasser's position remained tenuous.Sony VPCCA1S1E/B battery
The loss of Egypt's claim to Sudan, coupled with the continued presence of Britain at Suez for a further two years, led to domestic unrest including an assassination attempt against him in October 1954. The tenuous nature of Nasser's rule caused him to believe that neither his regime, nor Egypt's independence would be safe until Egypt had established itself as head of the Arab world. Sony VPCCA1S1E/D battery
This would manifest itself in the challenging of British Middle Eastern interests throughout 1955.
In late 1954, Nasser began a policy of sponsoring raids into Israel by the fedayeen, triggering a series of Israeli reprisal operations. The raids were targeted as much at Iraq politically as against Israel militarily. Sony VPCCA1S1E/G battery
It was Nasser's intention to win himself the laurels of the foremost anti-Zionist state as a way of establishing his leadership over the Arab world. Before 1954, the principal target of Nasser's speeches had been Britain. Only after the Anglo-Egyptian agreement on evacuating the Canal Zone did Israel emerged as one of Nasser's main enemies. Sony VPCCA1S1E/P battery
At the same time, the United States was attempting to woo Nasser into an alliance. The central problem for American policy in the Middle East was that this region was perceived as strategically important due to its oil, but the United States, weighed down by defense commitments in Europe and the Far East, lacked sufficient troops to resist a Soviet invasion of the Middle East. Sony VPCCA1S1E/W battery
In 1952, General Omar Bradley of Joint Chiefs of Staff declared at a planning session about what to do in the event of a Soviet invasion of the Near East: "Where will the staff come from? It will take a lot of stuff to do a job there".Sony VPCCA1S2C/CN1 battery
As a consequence, American diplomats favored the creation of a NATO-type organization in the Near East to provide the necessary military power to deter the Soviets from invading the region. The Eisenhower administration, even more than the Truman administration saw the Near East as a huge gap into which Soviet influence could be projected, Sony VPCCA1S3C/CN1 battery