Egyptian Naval Forces recently rejected a U.S. demand to fire on an Iranian vessel loaded with arms and heading to Syria, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority has told Al Arabiya.
Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, also former commander of the Egyptian Navy, ruled out the possibility of any military operations in the Suez Canal, to guarantee the security of the international waterway.
“My main goal since I was appointed chairman of the Suez Canal Authority on August 12 is to secure all ships passing through the waterway,” he said in a Saturday interview. “The Suez Canal is a narrow waterway and it is impossible for military actions to take place there.”
In the interview, which touched on a number of concerns about the waterway, Mamish said intensified security in the canal was bound to increase the number of ships passing through.
“Increasing the number of ships also necessitates widening the waterway through digging several tributaries. All this will be done by Egyptian hands and through Egyptian companies,” he said.
In response to rumors about the sale or rent of the Canal, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi had issued instructions that no foreign companies were to be involved in Suez development projects, he added.
Mamish also noted that a committee was formed to determine the projects that need to be implemented for the development of the Suez Canal especially ones related to maintenance and fuel.
Regarding the fees paid by ships that pass through the canal, Mamish said they were determined by a committee that took into consideration fees of other international waterways.
“The current revenue of the Suez Canal amounts to five billion dollars, and it is not advisable to raise the fees, because this might decrease the number of ships passing through the canal,” he said.
Asked about the content of ships passing through the Suez, Mamish said the authority is notified 24 hours in advance of passage about the weight and nature of the items on board each ship.
“The Suez Canal Authority verifies this information before giving the ship a permission to pass,” he said.