The Dire straits of shipping must bridge the gap… part 1 By John Faraclas
The latest situation over the last three months in Turkey (Istanbul), Egypt and now Gibraltar, three important passages linking the world’s seas and oceans and affecting us all – particularly in the shipping industry to all intents and purposes, if not contained, might lead to a conflagration with incalculable repercussions. The Falkland Islands stand-off, occupation by Argentina and counter operation to retake them back by Mrs. Thatcher, involving Byzantine diplomacy, tells me that things can get sour.
Take the state of relations between Greece and Turkey over many issues; both nations are NATO allies, same as The United Kingdom and Spain yet old scores haven’t been peacefully and justifiably settled. Perhaps Uncle Sam has other designs… Now, Egypt erupts again and here we have other elements which might be uncontrollable. All three hot spots are within the Mediterranean basin, an area heavily loaded with poverty, bankrupt nations, oil and gas exploration disputes, political and geopolitical claims, and too many wars and over the last three years it’s going from worse to worse given also the Syrian saga. If you add what has happened over the last seven decades with three Arab-Israeli Wars, the Lebanon saga, The Palestinian uprising, the Former Yugoslavia operetta, times two Libya, add the Arab Spring in North Africa, add Algeria in the 60’s and Morocco, add Greece’s and Turkey’s undeclared war before and after the Cyprus saga, dictatorships, you name it. Well, for the purposes of Shipping, we must add the Black Sea area too, where you dead well know what’s up there… Mr. Erdogan raises concerns for his brothers in Egypt; he has to, so he remains in power – we know the game, the old Turkish games and interests in Northern Africa…and beyond. Thanks to Laurence of Arabia, many things have changed Mr. Erdogan!
Now remember what happened with the closure of the Suez Canal; remember that if same happens again with different parameters – China now is in the game – the commercial shipping game, and if cut off, you never know what’s gone to happen. You know dead well what happened to Hong-Kong, and the way it happened; things change. So, Spain and the United Kingdom are once again at logger heads. I guess that unless the entire disputes in the entire Mediterranean Basin are the designs of others with “vested” interests in the area, nothing will change and the drums of war might be heard again. The climate is perfect. The dope of austerity, religion and other issues, sheer nationalism too can create the perfect timing for military “manoeuvres” with unpredictable results and outcome. Shipping of course will be greatly affected. Can you imagine clashes in the Straits of Gibraltar? And civil unrest in Istanbul, all at once…or the Brotherhood in Egypt occupying peacefully the Suez Canal? Can you imagine terrorists acts unimaginable – for us being the norm, what will happen?
The Spanish cannot trust the British – that’s official in the news, we’ve read it and heard it; their current excuse is again another shipping matter: fisheries, an artificial reef…. Come on! The British have their reply on this; like it or not the scope serves its purpose, read on below*. I wouldn’t at this stage deal with the Turks and their designs in the area, including the Kanal Istanbul; I leave it for part 2.
Having visit many times all these places, thanks to shipping and my late father (a Master Mariner), as well as the discussions I had and continue to have with specialists in the field, as well as the resume I get from the man in the street in all these areas, things can get sour; by the way, what is the UN doing? Watch this space!