Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, defended the Egyptian government’s agreement to transfer sovereignty of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, saying it is an implementation of a decision made during the rule of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Shoukry’s statements came during a meeting held yesterday for the Egyptian parliament’s Legislative and Constitutional Committee over the controversial agreement.
The minister said that the agreement was signed after 11 rounds of negotiations that relied on a decision made by Mubarak on 9 January 1990. According to the Egyptian foreign minister, Mubarak’s decision was numbered 27 and it provided no reference for the Tiran and Sanafir islands as Egyptian.
He said that the government also took into consideration a speech given in March 1990 by then-Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Esmat Abdel Megeed, in which he allegedly addressed his Saudi counterpart. During the speech, Abdel Megeed stated that the two islands are Saudi, Shoukry claimed.
Mubarak had previously stated that Tiran and Sanafir are Saudi islands during a questioning by a top Egyptian security apparatus.
The Egyptian government signed the controversial island transfer agreement with Saudi Arabia in April 2016 during King Salman’s first official visit to Cairo. The agreement sparked uproar among Egyptian activists and public figures who are opposed to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s regime. Opponents claim that Al-Sisi sold the two islands to Saudi Arabia in return for Saudi backing.
In January 2017, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the deal was void and that the two islands should remain under Egyptian sovereignty. The court’s ruling cast legal doubt on whether the Egyptian parliament should discuss the deal in the first place.