Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The Bosphorus Strait, a bomb ready to explode

Written by Gérard Tur on Thursday, October 14th 2021 à 17:15 | Read 417 times

The nationalism of the riparian countries and the economic and strategic stakes make the Bosphorus Strait a very sensitive site. The digging of the Istanbul canal could set off a powder keg according to a study by the IHEDN

A dangerous strait at all levels. Photo GT.
A dangerous strait at all levels. Photo GT.
MEDITERRANEAN. The Provence regional association of the auditors of the Institut des hautes études de défense nationale (IHEDN) organised on 7 October in Marseille the "2019-2021 studies forum". During this period, the association produced three reports on highly strategic and conflictual sites: the Straits of Gibraltar and the Bosphorus as well as the Suez Canal.
Completed in September 2021, the study on the Bosphorus stresses the explosive nature of this strait, a crossroads between Europe and Asia, at the heart of Russian, Chinese and Turkish ambitions. Several of the countries bordering the Black Sea, such as Turkey, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine, are engaged in conflicts exacerbated by the nationalist ideology of some of their leaders. The report considers that Turkey and Russia are carrying out destabilising actions in this region. The EU, although a neighbour, is not directly involved. This caution benefits Russia, Turkey and China, whose interests converge.

A fragile and endangered balance

The Bosphorus Strait, which is very difficult to cross for large cargo ships and is congested with passenger ships, is largely saturated. It is one of the most accident-prone areas in the world, the study notes. A real bomb. President Erdogan has launched his country on a pharaonic project: the construction of a canal parallel to the strait. It will ease congestion in the passage and reduce the risk of pollution or explosion for the 16 million Turks who live along its banks.
But, according to the report, it will also allow Turkey to take control of a highly strategic area. The canal will be an important source of revenue and power. The new infrastructure will not be affected by the Montreux Convention guaranteeing free movement in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits and the Black Sea. In the short term, a rebalancing of alliances and profound changes are to be expected, the study worries. This may upset the fragile balance that currently exists.

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