Sisi: ‘Nothing to hide’ on islands transfer to Saudi
The transfer, announced during an April visit by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abduaziz, ignited street protests
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has defended the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, which sparked the largest protests of his presidency and was declared unconstitutional last week.
He said on Wednesday that “the state will present all documents and evidence,” adding “we have to nothing to hide.”
The transfer, announced during an April visit by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abduaziz, alongside billions of dollars in Saudi aid, ignited street protests, with critics accusing the government of selling off sovereign territory. Last week a court struck down the transfer in a rare public rebuke of el-Sisi’s government.
The government is appealing the ruling. It says the islands of Tiran and Sanafir were always Saudi, but were placed under Egyptian protection in 1950. Sisi had previously refused to discuss the matter.
In April this year, Saudi Arabia and Egypt signed agreements to specify maritime borders, allowing both countries to benefit from maritime zones that were previously untapped.
The agreement was signed during Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visit to Egypt during which several investment projects were announced.
The technical drawing of the border include the Tiran and Sanafir islands as part of Saudi Arabia’s territory, the statement said.
In 1950, Saudi Arabia’s founder King Abdulaziz Al Saud had requested Egypt to protect those islands which has been the case since then.
Drawing up the maritime border for both countries had been in progress for over six years.
“This enables both countries to benefit from the exclusive economic zone for each, with whatever resources and treasures they contain,” a statement said.