Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Egypt's president is under fire for handing two Red Sea islands over to Saudi Arabia

Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has been criticised at home and abroad for agreeing to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia that have been controlled directly from Cairo for more than 60 years.

The deal on the islands of Tiran and Sanafir paves the way for the construction of a bridge linking Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian vacation resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, at the tip of the Sinai peninsula.

Egypt informed Israel in advance of its intention to transfer the sovereignty over two islands in the Gulf of Aqaba to Saudi Arabia. 

During the talks with Egypt, Israel made clear that it doesn't oppose the move as long as Israeli ships are guaranteed freedom of navigation in the area, and as long the rest of the commitments Egypt made as part of the peace agreement with Israel are honored. Egypt confirmed to Israel and the U.S. that the treaty will indeed be honored, and the Saudi government later made a public announcement to that effect. 

The two islands, Tiran and Sanafir, control entry to the Gulf of Aqaba and the ports of Eilat and Aqaba in Israel and Jordan, respectively. Tiran is the closest of the two to Egypt's coast, lying about six kilometers (four miles) from the Red Sea Resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

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