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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Tiran, Sanafir still sparking debate, cabinet provides proof of Saudi ownership

The grousing over Tiran and Sanafir continues: Israel gave Egypt its blessing on Tuesday to return the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports, and Saudis are apparently delighted to get the islands back, but the move still isn’t playing as well in Egypt. Members of the House of Representatives demanded that the government present documents proving the islands did in fact belong to Saudi Arabia, as did former Prime Minister (turned self-imposed exile) Ahmed Shafik. The cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center was happy to comply, providing historical documents as proof. The statement also pointed to a New York Times piece from 1982 that we noted earlier this week and which read in part: “The two islands were transferred by Saudi Arabia to Egyptian control in 1950 because the Saudis feared an Israeli attempt to seize them. Along with the rest of Sinai, they fell under Israeli control in the 1967 war, but Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Fahd said recently that he would ask Egypt, after regaining them in April, to return them to Saudi sovereignty."

A separate statement on the IDSC’s Facebook page says President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will not hand over the islands until the House of Representatives has reviewed the documents pertaining to the agreement and approved it. The center’s statement addresses five purported “myths” surrounding the agreement, including the lack of transparency involved, historical rights of Egypt to the islands, lack of evidence on Saudi Arabia’s claim, the timing of the agreement, and similarities with similar disputed areas such as Halayeb and Shalatin.

Finally, Al-Ahram chief Ahmed El Naggar said in a Facebook post that the islands are unequivocally part of Egypt, adding that he would offer historical proof tomorrow in what we assume will be an op-ed.

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