Suez Canal Closure Periods
Geography plays an important role in influencing political conflicts and in determining the nature of social and economic development.
The Suez Canal is one of the most important maritime routes that influence political conflicts, as it separates Asia and Africa, through which it can reach from the Arabian Gulf to Europe in 14 maritime days, and passes through it about 8% to 10% of the world trade.
Its importance stems from its strategic location and its ability to shorten navigation and trade routes, as the alternative route is to circumvent the Cape of Good Hope by a vessel from the Arabian Gulf that takes an additional 16 days, which means adding 4200 nautical miles per trip and increasing the total cost of transportation by approximately $ 140,000.
Therefore, the closure of the Suez Canal has major repercussions on the global trade movement, especially in the transfer of Arab and Iranian oil to Europe, in shortening the route of navigation between East Asia and Europe, and the closure of the Canal affects Egypt and its role in the region.
The Closure of the Suez Canal
Since the opening of Suez Canal in 1869, it has been closed to international navigation for various reasons. These periods were as follows:
- (5) days in August 1882 during the British invasion of Egypt for its occupation.
- (76) days during the Second World War, which took place between 1939 – 1945, where Egypt was like the rest of the Arab region the scene of the battles.
- (4) days from December 31, 1954 to January 10, 1955, due to the collision of a tanker with the Alfardan Bridge.
- (159) days from 2 November 1956 to 10 April 1957 during the triple aggression against Egypt.
- (8) years from 5 June 1967 to 4 June 1975 due to the Egyptian-Israeli war.
- June 5, 1975, was the day of the second inauguration of the channel under President Mohamed Anwar Sadat after the end of the Egyptian-Israeli war.
- (3) days from November 7, 2005 to November 9, 2005 as a result of a ship’s disposition in the Suez Canal.
The most prominent periods of closure of the Suez Canal:
The Triple Aggression period:
Between November 1956 and May 1957, the Canal was closed for a period of seven months with a major impact on the economy, including the sharp rise in tea prices, which was and still one of the basic social habits in Britain, which negatively affected India’s economy.
The effect of the closure of the canal exceeded the tea-growing sector, it made a social shake-up in the colonial countries, as the number of immigrants from Britain and Europe to Canada, New Zealand and Australia increased as a natural result of rising fuel and crude oil prices, followed by the closure of many factories and the decline of the European industrial product.
The biggest impact of the closure of the Suez Canal in 1956 was the impact on the sector of large ship industries and tankers, especially those involved in oil transport, this closure led to the emergence of so-called “Capacity Economies”, which was a large European investment in the construction of tankers as a kind of adaptation to the closure of the channel, and the need for international companies to use more sophisticated navigation to access the oil sources in the east and transfer to the West.
Thus, the closure of the Suez Canal during that period was one of the most important reasons for the acceleration of the appearance of giant sea tankers such as “VLCC” and “ULCC”, which is capable of carrying and transporting large quantities of oil for the purpose of import and export, and can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.
Post Six-Day War:
On June 5, 1967, the Zionist air operations, which targeted the Egyptian air force, began in an attempt to establish full control over the air space, which led to the victory of the Zionists against the Arab armies.
On 6 June, the late President “Abdel Nasser” announced the closure of the Suez Canal, which made “Bernard Lewis” wrote at the time:
“In May 1967, the opportunities for the southern expansion of the Soviet Union were excellent: in Somalia, the Soviet Union was embroiled in domestic politics and supported Somalia in its conflicts with Kenya and Ethiopia. In southern Arabia, the United Kingdom began withdrawing its troops, there was no doubt that the emerging regimes in that region would be allied with Egypt and the Soviet Union, and Egypt controlled the coast from Hudaybiyah to Aden, with its control of Aden and the Suez Canal and its ability to act, the Soviet navy had the advantage of controlling and dominating the Red Sea and the ability to determine the loyalties of regimes on both sides of the coast. ”
As the control of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal affects the interests of the countries that depend on the economic and political system on oil and its export, and depend on the Red Sea and the Suez Canal in its trade with the world, and after the aggression of the Zionist air force and the outbreak of war among the countries of the region. Bernard Lewis continued saying:
“The closure of the canal led to the decline of the activity of the Soviet navy in eastern Suez, forcing Egypt to withdraw from Yemen, leaving Aden behind, the Somalis resented the Soviets’ failure to support the Arabs in the war, thus they chose the path of peace with their neighbors. In the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula, the conservative forces joined forces and formed a financial and political force to contain Egypt, which in turn started relying on them financially. ”
The closure of the Canal lasted for eight years, during which the war of attrition and the 1973 war took place, and the Canal returned to work in 1975. The Canal’s opening coincided with the start of the diplomatic move to the “Camp David” accords, which came out in 1978, to get Egypt out of the state of war with the enemy, which was the last nail in the coffin of ending colonial influence in the Arab region.