With Marco Polo through the Strait of Hormuz
| Reading time: 3 minutes
All crises flow together again in the Persian Gulf. The threatening gestures of the Iranians, the aggression of the Americans, the problems of Europe and the oil. A reminder of Marco Polo, the grandfather of globalization.
DThrough the Strait of Hormuz they all come. Every day, several million barrels of crude oil are shipped through the strait. Powerful boats drive through the narrow gateway to the Persian Gulf from the East to the West, back from West to East, and sometimes they get stuck like the tanker “Stena Impero” under the British flag.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards had stopped and stormed the freighter in the Strait of Hormuz in July after the British had harassed the Iranian tanker “Grace 1” off Gibraltar. The US Navy is planning a mission called “Sentinel” against Iran. The British Navy would rather join the belligerent Americans than a European mission in which the Germans would like to calm their minds before everything burns again in the Middle East. The world is looking at Hormuz.
Already in 1272, the Venetian Marco Polo was there on his journey to the Far East. As the son of a merchant dynasty, Marco emulated his father Niccolò, who had brought some drops of lamp oil from the tomb of Jesus to the Khan in Kambaluk. While the Crusaders attacked the holy places, Marco Polo visited legendary places like Saveh, the city of the three kings, Kerman in Persia and Hormuz.
He reached the legendary city of Hormuz via fertile valleys with “beautiful streams, an abundance of dates and other fruits, birds of paradise, Frankin quails and other species that we do not know in our country”, as he reported back in Venice , In which “Il Milione” was always more than a guide. It is world literature in which not everything has to be true.
“After a ride of two days, you will reach the ocean and find a port on the coast, called Hormuz. Merchants come from India with ships laden with spices and gems, pearls, silks and gold, ivory and all kinds of goods that they offer to the dealers of Hormuz who in turn sell them to the whole world, “Marco Polo writes in his Millennium. Hormuz is a thriving city with its own king, but tends to simply expropriate foreign traders. Unfortunately, the ships in the harbor were no longer seaworthy enough for their onward journey. He took the land route, met the Khan in China and was allowed to sail on a diplomatic mission from Quanzhou to Hormuz, where he returned in 1293.
Marco Polo wrote about the world he had seen. “The division of the world”, “The wonders of the world” and “Il Milione”. About dark-skinned people worshiping other gods, and assassins, suicide bombers in Assyria. He had sat on more west-eastern divans than any traveling poet of his time and the centuries thereafter, to the first steam and diesel ships. “Il Milione” is the first manifesto of globalization that has ruined Hormus as a port city and commercial metropolis, in countless wars between the East and the West.
Today, Hormuz is a small island and even smaller town on this island on the sea road between the Gulf of Persia and Oman. As a word, hormus is greater than a place: it is the word that merges everything that is not right in the world today. From autocrats to fuels. “Either all sell their oil – or none”says Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, succeeding the king of Hormuz at Marco Polo.
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