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Egyptian Parliament Approves Transfer of Island To Saudi Arabia



President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi had in April 2016 basically handed over the two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, which provides a large amount of funding to his cash-strapped government. 

The approval, by a wide majority in an assembly filled with the president's supporters, was expected but how the country will react is what analysts are watching with interest. 

A year ago the move sparked rare protests in an Egypt under an ever-tighter iron grip, under an emergency law against Islamic terrorism and with growing pressure on opposition and independent media. In the torpor created by Ramadan, there were no reported incidents or arrests in the first few hours after the vote except for eight made in relation to an unauthorized protest at the journalists union.

Fewer than 100 out of the 600 MPs said that they were opposed to the move and Sisi's signature will bring the measure into force. The agreement on the new borders between Saudi Arabia and Egypt was signed on April 8, 2016 and handed the Tiran and Sanafir islands over to Saudi Arabia. The uninhabited islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba were strategic during the conflict with Israel and were entrusted to the Egyptian armed forces in 1950. They have now been handed back after a Saudi pledge to make them part of a huge bridge uniting the two sides of the Red Sea and developing their tourist potential. 


The Egyptian opposition saw it as giving in to oil-rich Saudi pressure, which helps Sisi both financially and in its struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood, a common enemy. The appeals against the agreement in the spring of 2016 led to the largest protests since Sisi gained power in 2014. In the three weeks after the agreement, human rights lawyers say that almost 1,300 people were arrested. 

At that time, however, the police and judiciary had not yet been granted additional power as part of a three-month state of emergency that came into force in April after suicide attacks on Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria. Reporting on protests in Egypt has also become more difficult due to a crackdown on the media through organs of control, a change in the leadership of state media and the blacking out of dozens of websites without an official explanation or on vague accusations of aiding terrorism. The situation has been worsened both by the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the subversive tendencies of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned after a nationalistic-military uprising that led to the ousting of the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. (ANSAmed).










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