Egyptians Angry Their President Gives 2-Islands To Saudi – For Money

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Apr 11 2016
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At least 11 people have been arrested for “protesting without a permit” in Egypt, shortly before Saudi King Salman was due to give a speech to Egypt’s parliament. Besides street protest, thousands of Egyptians have taken to the social media expressing their anger at their own President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, to the extent of calling him a “pimp”.


Critics across Twitter and Facebook are accusing Egyptian President of “pimping out Egypt”and “betraying the country” following a deal of giving away two islands located in a strategic corner of the Red Sea – Tiran and Sanafir – to Saudi Arabia. Back in 1950, Saudi Arabia transferred Tiran and Sanafir to Egyptian control amid concerns that Israel might seize them.

Egyptian Two Islands - Tiran and Sanafir Location Map

The Egyptian Cabinet tried to play down the issue, clarifying that the transfer was simply a transfer back to its original owner – Saudi Arabia. However, after “owning the islands” for decades, Egyptians have considered both islands to be Egyptian land and the weak President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has sold the country’s sovereignty in exchange for money.


The deal, which Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed on Saturday during Saudi King Salman’s four-day visit to Egypt, also witnesses a plan to set up a US$16 billion Saudi-Egyptian investment fund. The Egyptian president claims the fund would help the country develop and electricity plant and agricultural complexes in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia King Salman meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi - Standing Pose

Egyptians, however, believe King Salman had used money to corrupt President el-Sissi into surrendering the two islands, an issue known to be a long-standing maritime dispute between Riyadh and Cairo for as long as one can remember. King Salman has also pledged to build a bridge – “King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge linking both nations across the Red Sea.


Although unoccupied, the islands of Tiran and Sanafir carry “strategic” value. Located less than 8-km from the coastlines of both countries, both islands have taken experts 11 rounds and over more than 6 years of negotiations. President el-Sissi’s supporters were quick to defend the president’s decision, only to be mocked by critics.

Egyptian Two Islands - Tiran and Sanafir - Sea View

Former President Mohamed Morsi was criticised of plotting to give away part of Sinai to the Palestinian group Hamas back in 2013, an issue which eventually brought down him. After el-Sissi came to power that year in a military takeover, he introduced a clause in the Constitution that explicitly prohibited ceding Egyptian territory.


Ironically, the same el-Sissi is now being accused of surrendering Egyptian territory triggering joke on social media – “If Morsi sold them, they’re Egyptian, but if Sissi sold them, they’re Saudi.” Some even suggested that the Egyptian pyramids should be sold and moved into Saudi Arabia’s territory too.

Saudi Arabia - New King Salman Abdulaziz

Another Twitter user wrote – “The religion belongs to Allah, the islands belong to Saudi Arabia, the liquid gas belongs to Israel, the water belongs to Ethiopia and the morsels belong to the people. Those who don’t like this – welcome to the prison.” Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian satirist, sarcastically commented – “Very soon, sir, you will sell the islands for one million, the pyramids for two, and give the stone statues as a gift.”


Egyptian politicians and former military officers argued that since Saudi couldn’t protect their own islands and had given it away to Egypt for defence purpose, both islands should therefore belong to Egypt because it was the Egyptians who had fought to defend them, not Saudi Arabia. The islands was once-formed the border between the Ottoman Empire and British-controlled Egypt.

Egyptian Pyramids For Sale

There’re also legal experts in Egypt questioning the legitimacy of the agreement, arguing that that giving away authority over Egyptian territory is unconstitutional. Still, the country is hungry for money and since 2013, Saudi has been injecting US$12 billion into Egyptian coffers. Perhaps the real message is this – “Money Talks, Bullshit Walks”.


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