tiistai 1. maaliskuuta 2016

Excavate Suez Canal - Qanāt al-Suways

In 1854 and 1856, Ferdinand de Lesseps obtained a concession from Sa'id Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan, to create a company to construct a canal open to ships of all nations.

The company was to operate the canal for 99 years from its opening. De Lesseps had used his friendly relationship with Sa'id, which he had developed while he was a French diplomat in the 1830s. 
As stipulated in the concessions, de Lesseps convened the International Commission for the piercing of the isthmus of Suez (Commission Internationale pour le percement de l'isthme des Suez) consisting of 13 experts from seven countries, among them John Robinson McClean, later President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, and again Negrelli, to examine the plans developed by Linant de Bellefonds, and to advise on the feasibility of and the best route for the canal. 
After surveys and analyses in Egypt and discussions in Paris on various aspects of the canal, where many of Negrelli's ideas prevailed, the commission produced a unanimous report in December 1856 containing a detailed description of the canal complete with plans and profiles. The Suez Canal Company (Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez) came into being on 15 December 1858 and work started on the shore of the future Port Said on 25 April 1859.

The excavation took some 10 years using forced labour (corvée) of Egyptian workers. Some sources estimate that over 30,000 people were working on the canal at any given period, that more than 1.5 million people from various countries were employed, and that thousands of labourers died.
Suezin kanava, arab. قناة السويس‎, Qanā al-Suways on Egyptissä Siinain niemimaan länsipuolella sijaitseva laivakanava, joka yhdistää Välimeren ja Punaisenmeren ja mahdollistaa siten vesiliikenteen Euroopasta Aasiaan ilman Afrikan ympäripurjehdusta. 193,3 kilometriä pitkän kanavan päätepisteet ovat Port Said Välimeren rannikolla ja Suez Punaisellamerellä.

Ranskalaisen Ferdinand de Lessepsin Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez -yhtiö aloitti kanavan rakennustyöt 25. huhtikuuta 1859 ja ne saatiin päätökseen vuonna 1869. Kanavan suunnitteli itävaltalainen insinööri Alois Negrelli ja sen omisti Egyptin hallitus ja Ranska. Ensimmäinen laiva kulki kanavaa pitkin 17. helmikuuta 1867 ja viralliset avajaiset pidettiin 17. marraskuuta 1869. Kanavatyömaalla työskenteli arviolta 1,5 miljoonaa egyptiläistä, joista kuoli töiden aikana noin 125 000. Useimpien kuolinsyy oli kolera.

Kanavayhtiö sai omistusoikeuden kanavaan 99 vuodeksi. Ismail pašša myi velkojen vuoksi Egyptin osuuden kanavasta vuonna 1875 Yhdistyneelle kuningaskunnalle 4 000 000 punnalla. Britit siirtyivät suojelemaan kanavaa vuonna 1882. Vuonna 1888 britit julistivat Suezin kanavan Yhdistyneen kuningaskunnan protektoraatiksi ja armeijan joukkoja lähetettiin vartioimaan kanavaa.
Vuoden 1936 Anglo-egyptiläisessä sopimuksessa Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta sai kaikki valtuudet hallita kanavaa. Vuonna 1951 Egypti sanoi irti sopimuksen. Sopimuksen ehtoina Yhdistyneen kuningaskunnan piti vetää joukkonsa kanava-alueelta vuoteen 1954 mennessä.
The British government had opposed the project from the outset to its completion. As one of the diplomatic moves against the canal, it disapproved of the use of "slave labour" of forced workers. The British Empire was the major global naval force and officially condemned the forced work and sent armed Bedouins to start a revolt among workers. Involuntary labour on the project ceased, and the viceroy condemned the corvée, halting the project.
Angered by the British opportunism, de Lesseps sent a letter to the British government remarking on the British lack of remorse a few years earlier when forced workers died in similar conditions building the British railway in Egypt.

Initially international opinion was sceptical and Suez Canal Company shares did not sell well overseas. Britain, the United States, Austria, and Russia did not buy a significant number of shares. All French shares were quickly sold in France. 
A contemporary British sceptic claimed "One thing is sure... our local merchant community doesn't pay practical attention at all to this grand work, and it is legitimate to doubt that the canal's receipts... could ever be sufficient to recover its maintenance fee. 
It will never become a large ship's accessible way in any case."
The canal opened under French control on 17 November 1869. Although numerous technical, political, and financial problems had been overcome, the final cost was more than double the original estimate. The opening was performed by Khedive Isma'il Pasha of Egypt and Sudan, and at Ismail's invitation French Empress Eugenie in the Imperial yacht Aigle piloted by Napoléon Coste, who was bestowed by the Khedive the Ottoman Order of the Medjidie. The first ship through the canal was the British P&O liner Delta. 
Although L'Aigle was officially the first vessel through the canal, HMS Newport, captained by George Nares, passed through it first. On the night before the canal was due to open, Captain Nares navigated his vessel, in total darkness and without lights, through the mass of waiting ships until it was in front of L'Aigle. When dawn broke, the French were horrified to find that the Royal Navy was first in line and that it would be impossible to pass them. Nares received both an official reprimand and an unofficial vote of thanks from the Admiralty for his actions in promoting British interests and for demonstrating such superb seamanship.
After the opening, the Suez Canal Company was in financial difficulties. The remaining works were completed only in 1871, and traffic was below expectations in the first two years. De Lesseps therefore tried to increase revenues by interpreting the kind of net ton referred to in the second concession (tonneau de capacité) as meaning a ship's cargo capacity and not only the theoretical net tonnage of the "Moorsom System" introduced in Britain by the Merchant Shipping Act in 1854. 
The ensuing commercial and diplomatic activities resulted in the International Commission of Constantinople establishing a specific kind of net tonnage and settling the question of tariffs in its protocol of 18 December 1873. This was the origin of the Suez Canal Net Tonnage and the Suez Canal Special Tonnage Certificate still used.

The canal had an immediate and dramatic effect on world trade. Combined with the American transcontinental railroad completed six months earlier, it allowed the world to be circled in record time. It played an important role in increasing European colonisation of Africa. The construction of the canal was one of the reasons for the Panic of 1873, because goods from the Far East were carried in sailing vessels around the Cape of Good Hope and were stored in British warehouses. As sailing vessels were not adaptable for use through the canal, because the prevailing winds of the Mediterranean blow from west to east, British entrepôt trade suffered.
External debts forced Said Pasha's successor, Isma'il Pasha, to sell his country's share in the canal for £4,000,000 (about £86.2 million in 2015) to the United Kingdom in 1875, but French shareholders still held the majority. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli was accused by William Ewart Gladstone of undermining Britain's constitutional system, because he had not referred to, or obtained consent from Parliament when purchasing the shares with funding from the Rothschilds.
The Convention of Constantinople in 1888 declared the canal a neutral zone under the protection of the British, who had occupied Egypt and Sudan at the request of Khedive Tewfiq to suppress the Urabi Revolt against his rule. The revolt went on from 1879 to 1882. As a result of British involvement on the side of Khedive Tewfiq, Britain gained control of the canal in 1882. The British defended the strategically important passage against a major Ottoman attack in 1915, during the First World War.

Under the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, the UK retained control over the canal. The canal was again strategically important in the 1939-1945 Second World War, and Italo-German attempts to recapture it were repulsed during the North Africa Campaign, while the canal was closed to Axis shipping. In 1951, Egypt repudiated the treaty, and in October 1954, the UK agreed to remove its troops. 
Withdrawal was completed on 18 July 1956.

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