Suez Stalemate Lines

by “Hippie”

When the Khedive of Egypt decided to embark on a shrewd business opportunity that presented itself to him, little did he realise that he was signing the death certificate of his little kingdom within the Ottoman Empire.

What the Khedive had decided to do was to build a canal from the Mediterranean to the Red sea thus cutting the time it would take for ships to reach the rich trading centres of the east by many weeks. For this little help, shipping would pay plenty of money and Voila!! Riches and power beyond count.

Although the Khedive was indeed a shrewd Businessman, sadly he was definitely not a shrewd tactician and history was to prove this in 2 ways.

The Khedives` first mistake was to embark on a rather disastrous war in Eritrea which had the double misfortune of being both a failure and very costly.- Goodbye riches.

The Khedives` second mistake was that by reducing the time it took to the east, it also reduced the time it took to get to British India. For the first time India was strategically susceptible to a Russian Fleet moving quickly into the Indian Ocean should the Russians capture the canal. This was unacceptable to the British Government.-Goodbye power

Given these two mistakes, it wasn’t surprising when Britain acted quickly, initially buying a large amount of the shares in the canal (1875) from the now bankrupt Khedive and then physically taking over Egypt (and more importantly the canal) at the least sign of civil disorder in the country (1882) It now having become obvious that the Ottoman Empire was no longer strong enough to withstand a fullscale war with Russia for very long.

Although on a few occasions Britain intimated that it might give control of Egypt back to its previous rulers. The truth really is that it was not going to happen in a month of Sundays (in reality it took about a decade of Sundays)

Colonial Diplomacy starts in 1870. The Ottoman Empire, although in a tough position, does have the chance of establishing itself on the board. However, the Canal is up and running. Does it cause the same kind of problems for modern day players as it did for the Sultan, Czar and Disreali? lets see:-

From Britains Point Of View

From Britains point of view, History really does repeat itself. Once Fleets start coming through the canal and into the Red Sea, then it is extremely difficult for Britain to stem the tide.If Britain has not managed to establish a strong foothold in the East then it is just a matter of time before the demise of British India is accomplished and the removal of Her Majesties forces from the board is complete.

On the other hand, with Britain in control of the Suez, progressive stalemate lines can be quite easily employed to exert considerable influence in the area and subdue any potential threats from a triumphant Ottoman Empire or an expanding Russian Empire.

Stalemates with the Ottoman Empire eliminated

Stalemates with the Ottoman Empire still a threat