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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Higher Administrative Court rejects gov’t appeal on Tiran, Sanafir

The Higher Administrative Court has handed down a final verdict rejecting the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia,citing what it called government lawyers’ failure to provide evidence that the islands belonged to Saudi Arabia in the first place, Reuters reported. The court had earlier annulled the agreement in June, but an appeal by the government sent the issue to the HAC, the top court in the administrative judicial system.

No comment: Neither KSA nor the Ismail government have had official comment on the ruling as of this morning.

Does the House still have a say in the matter? Constitutional expert Shawky El Sayed thinks not and says the court’s ruling is “final and can’t be appealed” or discussed any further by the House of Representatives, according to Al Shorouk. He added that the decision to resort to international arbitration belongs to the two governments. An unnamed government official tells AMAY, however, that MPs can choose to uphold or reject the court’s decision.

Reactions from MPs were varied, according to Ahram Gate, with MP Mostafa Bakry’s objection appearing to be the most resounding (since he did write a book arguing in favor of the swap and had promised to resign if the court rules the islands Egyptian). Many others hailed it “as a confirmation of the truth.” MP Mohamed El Sadat suggested the House suspend all its talks on the treaty to avoid a squabble with the judiciary and urged the government to stop contesting the decision. The House’s 25/30 coalition also issued a statement supporting the ruling and calling for the release of citizens arrested for protesting against the treaty, Al Mal reported.

The verdict is going over well with Egyptian civil society types. AMAY has a nice roundup of reactions from Egyptian writers, artists and politicians.

Not so much in KSA, the newspaper reports, where some are calling for international arbitration and others are demanding the expulsion of Egyptians from the kingdom. A former Saudi legislator said KSA has presented proof the islands are Saudi and said Riyadh could take the case to the UN or seek arbitration. The politician, Anwar Eshki, also told BBC Arabic that the rift with Cairo is over other regional issues unrelated to the islands.

A really bad day for KSA: The Tiran and Sanafir ruling was one of three blows the kingdom took on the economy front yesterday. The International Monetary Fund has revised its forecast for KSA growth down to 0.4% in 2017 from a previous estimate of 2.0%, and KSA is getting flack after its oil minister suggested there is no need to extend an agreement on an OPEC production cut beyond six months. The IMF and OPEC news overshadowed an announcement that Saudi is launching a 10 GW, USD 30-50 bn renewable energy program and could consider building 2.8 GW in nuclear generation capacity.

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