Over 17,000 ships carried 928 million tons of cargo and almost 38 million TEUs through the Suez Canal in 2012. This man-made waterway is a critical artery in the global economy, permitting the shipment of cargo and commodities between key hubs in the Asia, Europe, and U.S. markets. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 was celebrated with good reason – it shortens the route from Asia to Europe by nearly 10,000 kilometers over the Cape of Good Hope transit.
The 1888 Convention of Constantinople mandated that the Canal may be used “in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag.” The Suez Canal, operated now by the Suez Canal Authority, has remained open through many conflicts, but has closed five times in the past. In the contemporary period, this includes two closures – a brief closure in 1956 during the ‘Suez Crisis’ and the eight-year closure from 1967 until 1975 as a result of Egypt-Israeli hostilities.