İlknur Şebnem Öztemel -TDO- Egyptian court announced its final decision as the Tiran and Sanafir islands which have key location in the Red Sea, to stay in Egyptian territory. Two strategically important islands were proposed to be given to Sisi’s biggest political and financial backer, Saudi Arabia.
Tiran and Sanafir islands were in the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba and strategically significant for each state in the region. In several official maps, Egyptian government showed islands as a part of the Sinai Peninsula and in its border. In 1950, Egypt sent troops to islands and issued an international memo, stated its sovereignty over them. In 1957, Saudi Arabia issued an official statement on the status of the disputed islands that claimed Saudi Arabian ascendance on the land. Also, it was declared that the Gulf was closed to international navigation, as it was a part of ‘’Saudi Arabian territorial waters’’. Following the Six Days War against Israel, Saudi Arabia gave up its territorial claims over the islands and transferred them to Egypt, fearing a Jewish invasion. During peace talks in 1979, Egypt promised to not to interrupt shipping in Aqaba and Eliat, where is the only port of Israel. Islands were given to Egypt by the United Nations. Additionally, it is known thatboth USA and Israel are able to use it for logistics.
In April 2016, during the visit of Saudi King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, two sides had a consent on the construction of a bridge between Saudi Arabia and Egypt onthe Red Sea and the return of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia. Decision led to mass demonstration in Egypt.
Recently, Egyptian court reached a final decision that rejects the assign of the islands.According to renewed constitution there is no administrative decision over the courts. However, Rafik Sherif, the deputy head of State Lawsuits, said “The administrative courts have no business reviewing such decisions in the first place’’. He added “These are sovereign acts, and the judiciary has no right to question them.”
As Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in 2013, Saudi Arabia and Egypt had closer relations. Saudi Arabia has given about 25 billion Dollars to Egypt so that it will recover its economy which was harmed because of the political turmoil, continuing since 2011.
Mustapha Kamal al-Sayyid, a political science professor in Cairo University,said “The Saudi government will be unhappy about this’’. Nevertheless he claimed that Saudi government would understand that having Egypt on its side was more important than gaining these islands. It is significant to remind that Egypt was also against political and military intervention of Saudi Arabia to Yemen and Syria.