One of the worst case scenarios that could happen in the aftermath of the Egyptian crisis is the closing of the Suez Canal by a radical group that would gain power. If a radical faction would somehow gain control of the reins of power in Cairo they would have an ace in the hole with the Canal. Some absurd demand on Israel to immediately withdraw from the occupied territories or else the canal gets shut down is a remote possibility, but strange occurrences happen in the world.
The Suez Canal is one of the most important canals in the world. It connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean. It is the most important trade connection between Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Opened in November 1869, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation around Africa. The northern terminus is Port Said and the southern terminus is Port Tawfik at the city of Suez. Ismailia lies on its west bank, 3 km (1.9 mi) north of the half-way point.
When first built, the canal was 164 km (102 mi) long and 8 m (26 ft) deep. After multiple enlargements, the canal is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) long, 24 m (79 ft) deep, and 205 metres (673 ft) wide as of 2010. It consists of the northern access channel of 22 km/14 mi, the canal itself of 162.25 km/100.82 mi and of the southern access channel of 9 km/5.6 mi.
The canal allows passage of ships up to 20 m (66 ft) draft or 240,000 deadweight tons and up to a maximum height of 68 m (223 ft) above water level and a maximum beam of 77.5 m (254 ft) under certain conditions.
Some supertankers are too large. Others can offload part of their cargo onto a canal-owned boat to reduce their draft, transit, and reload at the other end of the canal.
United States Nimitz class aircraft carriers can transit the canal as they stand 225 feet above the waterline and the Suez Canal Bridge is 230 feet above the waterline. Some Nimitz carrier masts are 240 feet tall. The top of the mast has to be temporarily lowered to make it under the bridge. It is cutting it pretty close.
The possibility of the canal being shut down is a far-fetched proposition at this point. As moderate forces seem to be emerging as the next ruling group in Egypt. But in this world, which is in effect a jungle full of snakes and scorpions, very strange things can happen. m