Where Are The Straits Of Tiran?

By Ferdinand Bada on December 11 2019 in World Facts

Snorkellers on Jackson Reef in the Straits of Tiran near Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
Snorkellers on Jackson Reef in the Straits of Tiran near Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

Straits of Tiran

The Straits of Tiran are narrow straits or sea passages between the Sinai Peninsula and the Arabian Peninsula, which link the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. The name of the straits originates from the nearby Tiran Island, which contains the observation post of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), which ensures that Egypt adheres to the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty and allows for free navigation through the Straits of Tiran. The straits have a maximum width of approximately 13 km and an average depth of about 290 m. There are currently plans to build a bridge across the Straits of Tiran that will link Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The proposed bridge will have a length of roughly 15 km.

War And The Straits Of Tiran

The Straits of Tiran are strategically significant since they provide access to Jordan's only seaport in Aqaba, as well as Israel's only seaport in the Red Sea, Eilat. In 1967, approximately 90% of Israel's oil was shipped through the straits, and therefore the Straits of Tiran became a focus of the Arab League boycott of Israel, which attempted to cripple Israel’s economy by cutting off-trade. As part of this boycott, Egypt refused to allow the passage of Israeli ships through the straits. Any cargo ship passing through the Straits of Tiran had to prove its final destination was not a port in Israel. This blockade of the Straits of Tiran is considered to be the start of the Six-Day War.

Six-Day War

The Six-Day War occurred between June 5 and June 10, 1967, and was fought between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries, which included Egypt (officially the United Arab Republic at that time), Syria, and Jordan. The war has also been referred to as the 1967 Arab–Israeli War, the June War, and the Third Arab-Israeli War. A similar war was fought in 1948 when Israeli troops invaded Egypt in an attempt to reopen the Straits of Tiran. According to Israel, any attempt to close the straits would be considered an act of war. Israel later withdrew its troops from Egypt after receiving assurances that the Straits of Tiran would be reopened.

Although the Straits of Tiran were reopened after 1948, disputes over the region were not fully resolved. In 1967, another blockade occurred, and Israel reaffirmed its position that a closure of the Straits of Tiran would result in war. In May 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the closure of the straits, and a battle ensued. As a result, almost all of Egypt's air force was destroyed and between 9,800 and 15,000 Egyptian soldiers were killed, while less than 1,000 Israeli soldiers were killed. Israel and Egypt later made peace through the signing of the 1978 Camp David Accords.

Recreation And Tourism

The waters of the Straits of Tiran feature popular spots for professional divers, especially in Sharm el-Sheikh. The waters are known for having strong currents and deep-diving spots. In addition to nice beaches, the Straits of Tiran also offer tourists the opportunity to see diverse marine life, including whale sharks, moray eels, and reef sharks. 

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