Suez Canal is known all around the world due to its frequent presence on the news and in the middle of various geopolitical and economical conflicts, confrontations, misunderstandings and rivalries. Through its history the Suez Canal has always been a spot of strategic interest of various powerful and influential states such as the United States, Great Britain, the USSR and, of course, Egypt.
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The Suez Canal lies on the territory of Egypt. It was first opened in 1860s. The appearance of this new trade way gave a push to the world’s economies and revolutionized the trading system. It also made an immense impact on Egypt. The Canal’s influence on the territory around turned out to be both positive and negative (Linehan, par. 1). The length of the Suez Canal is one hundred and one nautical miles. It is also only four hundred and thirty six feet wide and its depth is seventy three feet. The size of the ships and the weight of the cargo permitted to pass through the Canal are strictly regulated. The Canal works day and night, and the accidents there are very rare.
Due to its special geographical position, the Suez Canal is often called the shortest way from the global East to the West. The canal links Port Said located in the Mediterranean Sea and Suez in the Red Sea. Representing a short cut between the East and West it has always been a very important navigation and trades way. In the world of nowadays the cheapest way of trading and transportation is water transportation. Over eighty per cent of the volume of contemporary trades is done by means of water transport and is called seaborne trade (Importance & Advantages of the Canal, par. 1). Using the Canal as a trade way means saving a lot of time, finances and distance, this is one of the reasons why the control of the Canal is so crucial for the world’s political leaders.
Suez Canal receives at least twenty two per cent of the world’s container cargo trades. It is the way through which the goods made in Asia travel to Europe and then to America. Most of the high demand goods such as electronics are made in Asia (Cole, par. 5). If the Canal gets closed, the prices for electronics throughout America and Europe will skyrocket. Such changes will certainly hit the countries’ economies. One more kind of goods that is transferred through the Canal is gas and oil. They come through the pipelines and travel by sea. If something happens to Egypt and the Canal is shut down, the world’s prices for oil and gas will increase by at least thirty per cent. Besides, the inexpensive fuel extracted in the Middle East is sold to the countries of America through the Canal. All of these factors make the Suez Canal a strategically important area for some of the biggest and most powerful economies of the world.
Unstable political situation in Egypt over the last several years and long lasting Arab-Israeli confrontations have created multiple concerns for the world’s political leaders. During the times of wars and armed conflicts the Suez Canal becomes highly vulnerable as it is a target of terroristic attacks. The ships and cargos transferred through the Canal, naturally, get endangered too (Herbert-Burns, 2). Moreover, the Suez Canal is surrounded by the community of dwellers of the Canal Zone. The important trade way needs to be cleaned and serviced every day; thousands of people are involved in the maintenance of the Canal and support of its functions.
Cole, Juan. Ten Reasons Why Egypt is Vital to the US Economy and Security. 2013. Web.
Herbert-Burns, Rupert. “The Suez Canal Strategic and Operational Security Realities – Part, Present and Future”. Strategic Insight: Global Maritime Analysis 19 (2009): 1-6.
Importance & Advantages of the Canal. SuezCanal. 2008. Web.
Linehan, Merilin. The Geo-Politics of Historic Trade Routes: The Suez Canal. 2014. Web.