Egypt 'rejected the renaming of Suez Canal'

Ahram Online , Sunday 2 Aug 2015

Changing the name of the Suez Canal to the 30 June Canal would oblige Egypt to sign new agreements and treaties to regulate naval movement, says head of Suez Canal

Suez Canal
Mohab Mameesh, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority ,talks to state TV as he checks work at the New Suez Canal, Ismailia, Egypt, July 25, 2015 (Reuters)

The head of the Suez Canal Authority, Mohab Mamish, revealed that he rejected the suggestion to change its name to the 30 June Canal, due to historical naval agreements Egypt has signed.

In interview with Al-Arabiya News Channel Saturday, Mamish stated that Egypt was committed to the Convention of Constantinople and could not rename the Suez Canal as it would have to sign new agreements in order to regulate naval movement, according to international law.

30 June marks the popular protests in Egypt against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted 3 July 2013.

Speaking about the new Suez Canal, Mamish stated that the economic unit in the Suez Canal Authority expected that revenues of the Suez Canal would increase to $13 billion instead of $5.4 billion annually after eight years.

He also stated that the cost of digging the new Suez Canal did exceed $4 billion, as expected.

"It costs us less than what we originally expected. After all, this is the Egyptian people's money," Mamish said.  

He added that work on the Suez Canal development project, as well the Suez Canal tunnels, would start right after the inauguration of the new Suez Canal Thursday.  

The Suez Canal development project aims to develop the zone around the canal into industrial and commercial hubs.

The official opening of the new 72-kilometre Suez Canal shipping lane is scheduled for 6 August in the presence of an invited audience of world leaders.

During the interview Mamish discussed preparations for the inauguration, including ensuring that the Egyptian armed forces were protecting the canal on the highest level of alert.

"Already naval movement in the Suez Canal did not stop for a single moment, despite what Egypt has been through since the 25 January Revolution," Mamish said.

The former commander of the Egyptian navy forces revealed to Saud News channel that after the 25 January Revolution, the US Navy spotted an Iranian ship carrying arms heading to Syria and that the United States asked Egypt to stop the ship.

"Nevertheless, Egypt rejected the request due to its commitment to the Constantinople Convention and international laws that allow ships carrying arms to pass, as long as the ships have legal documents," Mamish said.

Mamish also revealed that soon after 25 January 2011 a number of US navy ships entered Egyptian territorial waters without Egypt's permission and that the Egyptian Navy contacted these ships and demanded they leave Egypt's territorial waters.

"They left because they felt we were awake, securing our land and water," Mamish said. 

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