Egyptians have not yet recovered from the shock of the government’s decision to sell the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia despite the fact that a court ruling declared them to be Egyptian islands within the geographical borders of the Egyptian state. Al-Sisi breached the law and violated the constitution and its articles that state that the president is not entitled to concede any part of the state’s land. He disregarded this and took advantage of the fact that people were preoccupied on the eve of Eid and decided to give the two islands to Saudi Arabia. This was his Eid gift to the Saudis, but he made it a night of grief and distress for the Egyptian people.
Before the Egyptians had a chance to recover from this the residents of Al-Warraq Island, in the heart of Cairo, were ambushed by a huge number of army and police forces who stormed their homes and expelled them. They also watched as their homes were destroyed and demolished in order to evacuate the island and hand it over to businessmen from Abu Dhabi who bought the island to turn it into Manhattan. The company buying the island have been preparing the drawings for this strategic and important area on Egypt’s Nile River for years yet the people were the last to find out what was being done behind the scenes.
The people of Al-Warraq took a courageous stand and they confronted the invading forces with their bare chests. One of them was killed and several were wounded, but they insisted that they would only surrender their land and the land of their ancestors over their dead bodies, despite being attacked with bullets and tear gas in hot weather. The people of Al-Warraq forced the security forces to leave and postpone the evacuation indefinitely, but some people were arrested and security forces continue to besiege the island. They also cut the electricity and prevented the ferries they use to move across the Nile from operating.
The pro-coup satellite channels launched a fierce campaign against the people of the island, targeting their honour and reputation by accusing them of being drug dealers and terrorists. The terrorism accusation is always ready to be levelled against anyone who opposes the regime. They also claimed that the land belonged to the state and that the residents took it by force, even though they have the court rulings proving they own the land. We are living in a state that does not respect judicial rulings and tramples all over the law. Therefore, the residents will be threatened once again with the evacuation of the island and the state will impose its control over the island to raise its prestige.
The rule of law is used in the interest of the citizen but in Egypt the interest of the citizen is the last thing the government thinks about. Since we are living in a quasi-state, as Al-Sisi has said in the past, all taboos are permissible and oppression has become the main characteristic of the government. The state’s prestige is only realised at the expense of the poor while the rich who violated the state’s land and built their mansions and resorts on it cannot be touched.
As for the army and the police’s private tourism facilities built right on the banks of the Nile River, no one speaks out or holds them accountable for the fact that this land was taken by force with no right. The people of Al-Warraq are now living in great fear as they have been threatened with overnight expulsion at any time because the government insists on evacuating the island and handing it over to the UAE’s high representative. Egypt has received the money for the island, but we, the people, do not know where such money goes. We don’t know where any of the money received by the government – estimated to be hundreds of billions of dollars – since the coup has gone.
Throughout its long history Egypt has never witnessed the sale of its land as none of the leaders before the 1952 revolution ever dared to sell an inch of it, and they were not even Egyptian. Nor has anyone after the revolution, from Gamal Abdel Nasser to Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. However, Al-Sisi does what he wants and is implementing a Zionist agenda that aims to shrink Egypt’s geographical size as well as contain its influence in the region.
All eyes are now focused on the Sinai Peninsula today in light of Al-Sisi’s previous pledge to sell it as an alternative homeland for the Palestinians, known as the deal of the century. The stage in Sinai is being prepared for this purpose and the terrorist operations occurring there are only cover for what the future will bring.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.