Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud said that Tiran and Sanafir islands belong to Saudi Arabia and this is registered officially in the two Arab states as well as internationally.
In an interview with Saudi state TV, bin Salman said,”The agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia last year was only a bilateral convention on maritime demarcation and neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia gave up an inch from their lands.”
He also pointed out that the maritime demarcation agreement was signed to explore more economic interests and opportunities for Saudi Arabia including the construction of the King Salman Bridge, oil and energy supplies and increasing Gulf exports to Europe.
He said,”The media outlets that criticize the relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, they also criticize Abdel Fattah al-Sisi himself. But our relationship with Egypt is concrete, strong and one of the deepest ever.”
Moreover, the Saudi Arabian prince added that his country’s relationship with Egypt would never be affected as historically both countries get along through any circumstances and this would never change. He said,”There was no negative attitude from the Egyptian government towards Saudi Arabia and vice versa. Neither country will give up on the other.”
He also said that he believes it is doubtless that the two countries’ enemies will publish speculations and rumors through Iranian or Brotherhood-affiliated media in an attempt to impact the relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia; however, the leaderships will not pay attention to these altercations and trivialities, according to bin Salman.
In response,Egyptian lawyer Khaled Ali, who initially brought the controversial agreement to court,posted on his official Facebook account to commenting on bin Salman’s statement,saying that Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian land.
He said,”Egypt’s flag is the only one raised on its mountains. Egyptians are the only ones who lived on it, fought for it, were captured and bit the dust for their country which was occupied and then freed with their blood, sweat and tears. They are Egyptian and will remain as they are.”
It is worth to mention that the Egyptian government approved the controversial deal to hand over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to the Gulf kingdom in December and has sent it to parliament for ratification.
However, Egypt’s High Administrative Court rejected the deal in a final ruling last January, affirming that the islands belonged to Egypt alone and that the government has not provided sufficient evidence proving otherwise.
Last month, an Egyptian court voided a previous decision to block the transfer the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.
The court’s ruling came days after Sisi met with Saudi King Salman on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Jordan, breaking the ice after months of tensions between the longtime allies.
In addition,during his visit to Washington last month, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi assured US President Donald Trump that Cairo will hand over the two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, according to a US-based Egyptian diplomat.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “Sisi said that Egypt has not pulled back from the deal and that they are serious about carrying through with it after parliament approves the legal requirements.”
The controversial government deal that gave away the two strategic islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia which led to massive criticism and outrage among the Egyptians.
Critics, journalists, and activists accused Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of “selling Egypt” to Saudi Arabia in return for financial aid.
In response, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in protests on April 15 (Land Day) and April 25 (Sinai Liberation Day) against the agreement, calling for the “Downfall of the Regime.”
The demonstrations were the first huge movement against the al-Sisi regime that included different political affiliations and groups.
The Egyptian security forces led arrest campaigns of activists and journalists who opposed the transfer of the islands.
Moreover, Egypt’s courts have fined tens of the protesters while others were handed down prison sentences that ranged from two to five years.
In addition, a court sentenced seven defendants to eight years in prison each and fined them.