Conflict and the Middle East have become synonymous terms it seems. Whether it is theological or geographical, a jihad or something first world countries take for granted – water. In this instance the conflict arose from water; not in the conventional sense of drinking water, which has been the source of wars before, but narrow, yet strategic and important, sea passage called the Straits of Tiran. This small, shallow river has been the catalyst for not one, but for two separate altercations in the Middle East.
On this day January 22nd, in 1957, Israel withdrew its troops from the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai Peninsula is a large region between Israel and Egypt, it is also alluded to in the bible as the Jews trek from slavery in Egypt to their promised land of Zion. The controversy erupted when Egypt decided to blockade to Israel the Straits of Tiran and ultimately cut off Israel’s many necessary supplies. In order to minimize the backlash and violent aggression from Egypt, it was decided that Israel would withdraw its troops on the grounds of peace and Egypt’s assertion that it would not commit this egregious behavior again.
This event became known as the Suez Crisis, but in Egypt it is referred to as the Tripartite Aggression because England and France assisted Israel in recognizing the importance of the cause. Egypt had turned the Sinai Peninsula into a military station, violating the 1948 Armistice Agreements and a 1951 UN Sanction that ships should not be prevented from passing. This same area of land which the Suez Canal (Straits of Tiran) is situated in again became a central issue when Israel conquered it after being invaded during the 1967 War (it was later returned with the signing of a peace treaty in 1979).