14 June, 2021

The Suez Crisis - II

The original one was a geopolitical crisis, from 1956. This time, it was a traffic jam on those blue waters! A ship gets wedged sideways, and a sleepy village has to come to life.

Photograph by PTI
The Suez Crisis - II

The sleepy farming village of Amer overlooks the Suez Canal. This March, the village was suddenly thrust into the limelight after the Ever Given—a colossal container ship—got stuck nearby. It was a windy morning when the Ever Given got wedged sideways in a single-lane stretch of the canal and clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways. That created a massive traffic jam that held up $9 billion a day in global trade and strained supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic. The villagers—like the rest of the world—have not seen anything like that before.

The contrast between tranquil village life and the busy artery of global shipping is stark. Farmers in Amer eke out a living tending to small fields and livestock, while before them pass behemoths of world trade—vessels carrying millions of dollars’ worth of cargo. But the canal is a source of intense pride for residents of the area. They call it “our canal” and the older ones still remember then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s decision in 1956 to...

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