23:01 GMT +318 January 2019
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    A picture taken on January 14, 2014 through the window of an airplane shows the Red Sea's Tiran (foreground) and the Sanafir (background) islands in the Strait of Tiran between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia.

    Red Sea Islands ‘Belonged to Egypt Centuries Before Saudi Arabia’s Birth’

    © AFP 2018 / STRINGER
    Middle East
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    Egypt's Administrative Court on Tuesday rejected the government’s decision to hand over control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Sputnik spoke to the Secretary General of the Socialist Party of Egypt, Ahmed Shaaban, regarding this decision.

    A Muslim Brotherhood member shouts solgans in front of riot police during a demonstration protesting the government's decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, April 15, 2016
    © REUTERS / Amr Abdallah Dalsh
    “The decision to transfer the islands to the Saudi Kingdom was not correct, as the transfer method itself was incorrect due to a lack of national dialogue on this issue. In this decision public organization representing people’s will did not take any part.”

    He further said that the government had to deal with a difficult situation, because this decision had to be transferred to the Parliament after popular public’s indignation.

    “The only way out could have been to cancel this decision. However, the Administrative Court of Egypt was ahead of the parliament and decided to annul the agreement regarding the transfer of the islands,” Shaaban said.

    “Nevertheless, the situation has become more complicated, as the recognition of this decision to null and void would create problems in the bilateral relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The discontent of the people on this issue would create more threats,” the politician said.

    The two islands Tiran and Sanafir are uninhabited and located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, a strategic part of the Red Sea bordered by Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    In turn, Khamdi Haikal, leader of the “Egyptian People's Movement” and one of the commissioners of the case on “invalidity of decision of transferring Tiran and Sanafir”  spoke to Sputnik saying that today's verdict was expected, since historically this land belongs to Egypt and it is under Egyptian sovereignty.

    “Saudi Arabia declares that it owns the islands. But Tiran and Sanafir have been under the sovereignty and control of Egypt for hundreds of years before the birth of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz in 1932,” Haikal concluded.

    Earlier, it was reported that the court judged that the agreement on maritime borders between Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed in April this year was invalid.

    In April, the agreement between Cairo and Riyadh on the islands of Tiran and Sanafir at the southern entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba triggered a week of mass rallies on the streets in central Cairo.

    Some 400 people were arrested, dozens were sentenced to prison. However, later an appeals court in Cairo overturned this ruling and the protesters were released.


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    strategic importance, dispute, bilateral relations, interview, sovereignty, Red Sea, Egypt
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