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Volume :6 Issue : 23 1980      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

THE TIRAN STRAITS’ IN THE MIDDLE EAST PROBLEM

Auther : By: Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Rehim Mostafa

 

The tiran straits’ problem has been the result of the emergence of the state of Israel, which touched the Gulf of Aqaba, where she created the port of Eilat. In 1950, Egypt declared that a state of war existed between her and Israel, and hired from Saudi Arabia and occupied the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir which are situated in the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. In December 1950, the erected coastal batteries in Sharm Al-Sheikh and Ra’as Al-Nusrani at the southern extremity of the Sinai Peninsula, with the object of closing the Gulf of Aqaba for Israeli navigation, declaring thus that the Gulf constituted Arab water. The counteract of this argument Israel contended that the Rhodes Truce Agreement signed with Egypt in 1949 provided for the establishment of perpetual peace in Palestine and for the liquidation of the military confrontation, thus challenging Egypt’s right to declare the state of war in the Gulf of Aqaba. The western maritime Powers supported the stand of Israel.

The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 reiterated the stand taken by its predecessor concerning the Zionist state in general and the Gulf of Aqaba in particular. Israel accordingly, took part in the “Tripartite Aggression” of 1956 and occupied the Sinai Peninsula, which she did not evacuate except in response to American pressure that after the concentration of the International Emergency Forces in the Gaza Strip. Sharm Al-Sheikh and the Egyptian side of the International Frontiers and opening of the Gulf of Aqaba for Israeli navigation.

In 1967 the situation in the Middle East was seriously aggravated when Jamal Abdel-Nasir believed that the Israelis were about to attack Syria which was tied to Egypt by a mutual defense treaty. On 15 May, Egypt declared a state of emergency and deployed her forces in the Sinar Peninsula. Abdel-Nasir then asked U-Thant the Secretary General of the United Nations, to withdraw the International Emergency Forces which were concentrated on the Egyptian side of international frontiers of Sinai. But U-Thant aggravated the situation when he put Abdel-Nasir in the dilemma either the withdrawal of the International Forces in total or their totally staying where they had been. It was then impossible for the Egyptian leader to retreat, since this would entail a complete loss prestige. Thus he accordingly gave orders in 21 May to his troupes to occupy Sharm-Al-Sheikh. On the following day de declared that the Gulf of Aqaba was thence forward to be closed for Israeli navigation and other ships carrying strategic materials to the post of Eilat. This was a flagrant defiance to Israel who had repeatedly declared after her withdrawal from Sinai in 1967, that the closing of the Tiran Straits constituted a casus belli. The United States, who had intervened to open the Gulf of Aqaba for Israeli shipping as a counterpoise to the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sinai, supported the Israeli stand without reserve and tried to align the western naval countries in an attempt to stimulate a collective action having as its object to force the opening of the Gulf of Aqaba.

After putting the blame on Abdel-Nasir for initiating the crisis, Israel launched the war for which she had prepared since Suez. Her forces quickly re-occupied Sinai, moreover that the West Bank and the Golan Heights. After occupying Sharm Al-Sheikh, she also controlled the navigation in the Gulf of Aqaba, the importance of which shrank during the October was of 1973 when the Arabs controlled the entrances of the Red Sea which they closed for Israeli navigation. If there is a tendency to solve the Middle East problem peacefully, proper solution must be arrived at fulfilling the interests of all concerned as to all the nuclei of conflicts including the Straits of Tiran, which, while being Arab waters, constitute an international waterway of navigation subject to the same regulations controlling navigation in similar waterways.

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