Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced, on a live broadcast, that he was going to transfer two Red Sea islands, Sanafir, and Tiran, to Saudi Arabia in return for a $16 billion Saudi-Egyptian investment fund and the building of a bridge between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, April 13.

Tiran island. The Egyptian president says he did not surrender the territory, arguing that this is a strategic move. Credit: Egyptian Streets

“We did not surrender our rights, but we restored the rights of others,” said president el-Sissi in comments broadcast live. “Egypt did not relinquish even a grain of sand.”

What the Egypt’s government is claiming is that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, actually belong to Saudi Arabia. This country asked Egypt in 1950 to protect them from Israel, which captured the islands in 1967 during the Middle East war, but handed them back to Egypt under their 1979 peace treaty.

Since Egypt is giving Saudi Arabia what is theirs, it still remains unknown why the King is giving money to Egypt for them to invest. National leaders are not trusting El-Sissi’s moves, saying that he is pushing the country to national suicide.

Parliamentarians, ministers, and senior editors were invited to the presidential palace, to listen and participate in the speech. But when one of the ministers tried to ask a question, the president silenced him and said he did not give him permission to talk.

The announcement did not only stun other national leaders but viewers as well, making them talk to social media. Egyptians mostly were surprised, unlike the leaders, over the lack of freedom of expression. The hashtag “speech does not need permission” trended on Twitter, and the citizens started to mock about the fact that the president invited people to debate but he was the only one allowed to talk.

This announcement is not the only issue president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has had lately. Italy is accusing Egypt’s security agencies to be behind the killing of Giulio Regeni, the Italian doctoral student abducted in Cairo, and who disappeared on January 25.

He denied these accusations and also reiterated Cairo’s position that Egyptian security forces had nothing to do with the torture and killing of the Italian man. Italy is saying that the behavior of the Egyptian’s president shows a lack of cooperation in the investigation.

Source: The Huffington Post