The President of Egypt has issued a resolution allocating 47 state-owned islands in the Red Sea to the army, stating that the land is of strategic military importance.
٤٧ جزيرة مملوكة للدولة في البحر الأحمر اغلبها مخصص للأنشطة السياحية قرر رئيس الجمهورية اليوم تخصيصها للقوات المسلحة pic.twitter.com/m3ddunn1zZ
— hossam bahgat حسام بهجت (@hossambahgat) August 7, 2019
Most of the islands are currently used for tourism purposes, including Giftun Island in the resort town of Hurghada which is famous for snorkelling, Tobia Island and Abu Hashish Island, also a famous dive site.
The army is estimated to own around 40 per cent of Egypt’s total GDP and owns construction firms, cement plants, hotels and invests in key sectors like tourism.
In June 2017 Egyptian lawmakers approved an accord transferring the two Red Sea Islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, a victory for the president who had initially signed the deal in 2016 only to have it rejected by the highest administrative court.
The islands were mainly under the control of the Egyptian military since 1949.
When he initially announced the islands would be transferred to Riyadh, Egypt witnessed the largest protests since Al-Sisi’s rise to power in 2014 and in response security forces arrested demonstrators.
Former Egyptian Ambassador Masoum Marzouk was arrested in August 2018 after opposing the transfer of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia and calling for a public referendum on Al-Sisi’s rule before the Public Prosecution released him under a presidential pardon.
Resolution No. 380 of 2019 follows closely after news over the weekend that Egyptian authorities would begin implementing a 2016 decree which allocates two kilometres of land on either side of major roads in Sinai as property of the Ministry of Defence.
When the decree is implemented more than 80 per cent of the local population will be displaced.