Canal de Suez

The Freeing of the Ever Given

In the end, a full moon succeeded where puny machines could not, wrenching the mammoth barge out of the Egyptian mud in which it became wedged six days earlier. A spring tide finally set the Ever Given and its enormous stack of 18,300 shipping containers afloat again, drawing cheers from Egyptians on the shore and a virtual world beyond.

Before long, some 350 freighters blocked from traversing the Suez Canal hoisted anchor and began moving through; insurers mournfully took out their abacuses, and people near and far went back to their far drearier crises of pandemic, ailing businesses, wars, racism, autocracy and refugees.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Suez Canal made headlines on Wednesday. A 59-foot-wide container ship called the Ever Given rammed into the eastern bank of the 120-mile-long Suez Canal. Traveling at a speed of 13 knots (15 mph), the 1,300 foot, 200,000-ton ultra large container ship came to a sudden stop with her bow aground in Asia and her astern at rest in Africa, creating a blockage in a waterway that sees 12% of the world commerce pass through it every year. As of Thursday, tugboats are still working to dislodge the Ever Given.

This is not a story you hear every day; maritime logistics do not cross most people's minds often, let alone wind up in the national news.…  Seguir leyendo »

The stranded Ever Given container ship with an Egyptian tug boat in the Suez canal, Egypt, March 2021. Photograph: Suez CANAL/AFP/Getty Images

However grim and difficult life these days is, I’d still prefer to be sitting on dry land in lockdown than trying to do a three-point turn on the Suez canal with a 400-metre cargo ship under my control. Wouldn’t you? The grounding of the Ever Given container vessel in the Suez canal has provoked both hilarity and genuine concern. Vessels have got stuck before in the canal: at its narrowest, the “ditch in the desert”, as crew on the container vessel I travelled with in 2010 told me, is only 300 metres wide. It’s tight. That’s why ships must wait at either end to be sent through in a slow convoy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Under the Ships in the Suez Canal

This summer, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt announced that the Suez Canal would be expanded — to around double its size. The canal is the fastest way to sail from Asia to Europe, a shortcut that brings Egypt $5 billion of revenue a year. But in addition to hosting 10 percent of the world’s shipping traffic, the canal is a major conduit for invasive species.

Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and ecosystem stability. Yet the Suez Canal expansion is proceeding without any environmental review whatsoever.

In September, 18 scientists published a paper in the journal Biological Invasions calling the expansion and lack of environmental oversight “ominous” because “the Suez Canal is one of the most potent mechanisms and corridors for invasions by marine species known in the world.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Most of the attention these days is on Syria, but there is also a growing problem in Egypt with global implications. Nine Egyptian policemen were wounded by a bomb in the northern Sinai Peninsula on Monday. The week before, suicide bombers killed nine soldiers in the peninsula. Shootings, kidnappings and bombings — roadside, car and suicide — have become routine occurrences in Sinai. And the burgeoning Islamist insurgency is spreading to other parts of Egypt. In early September, the interior minister narrowly survived a car-bomb attack in Cairo reportedly perpetrated by a Sinai-based jihadist group.

Already reeling from more than two years of civil insurrection, a spike in crime, an epidemic of sexual assault and the military's killing in August of nearly 1,000 Islamists protesting the coup that removed the elected Muslim Brotherhood president from office, the insurgency is bad news for Egypt.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Vernon Bogdanor, a professor of goverment at Oxford University (THE TIMES, 29/10/06):

Fifty years ago today, Israel, exasperated by guerrilla incursions from Egypt, attacked in the Sinai, its troops advancing rapidly towards the Suez Canal. Britain and France, under the pretext of “separating the combatants” then attacked Egypt so as to reoccupy the canal. The final phase of the drama, the gravest international incident between the end of the war and the Cuba missile crisis of 1962, had begun.

It had been triggered in July 1956 when President Nasser had nationalised the Suez Canal Company in breach of a treaty signed with Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, two years before.…  Seguir leyendo »

By David Fromkin, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, is the author of 'A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East' (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 28/10/06):

FIFTY years ago tomorrow — on Oct. 29, 1956 — Israeli paratroops were dropped deep behind Egyptian lines in the Sinai peninsula, opening the way for the ground troops that followed. In a lightning campaign lasting less than five days, the Israelis took control of the entire peninsula. The Israelis had a rendezvous at the Suez Canal with the armed forces of Britain and France.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Nehad Salem, a novelist and freelance interpreter (THE GUARDIAN, 20/10/06):

Egypt in the 50s was a time of elation born of hope in the future and pride in the distant past. The country was young again, emerging from a long period of lethargy. With Nasser, our new charismatic leader, anything seemed possible. A whole generation was fired with enthusiasm. On October 29 1956 the Israelis attacked. What happened to the army is well documented. That Nasser gave orders to distribute weapons to the inhabitants of Port Said and Suez is less common knowledge. Cases of brand new guns still covered in grease were handed to crowds eager to fight for their country.…  Seguir leyendo »