Saudi Arabia Receives Two Islands From Egypt

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and King Salman on Saudi Arabia have agreed on a maritime border deal that has given ownership of the two Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir over to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The move to give the two islands to Saudi Arabia angered many Egyptians and has even caused a few small protests to erupt throughout the country.

The group that seems the most upset are the Muslim Brotherhood, which is arguably one of the most predominant religious and political affiliations within the country.

“The Muslim Brotherhood hereby declares unequivocally that no one has the right to abandon the property and resources of the Egyptian people in exchange for a fistful of dollars, or in exchange for support for government policies sanctioning murder, detentions, violations, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings,” the Middle East Eye reported the group as saying.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters hold up Koran and chant during rally. [Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images]
Muslim Brotherhood supporters hold up Koran and chant during rally. [Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images]
The transfer of the islands to Saudi Arabia was done after King Salman promised Egypt that the Saudi’s would essentially start pumping money into the country, including a “$16 billion investment fund,” reported Al Arabiya.

The New York Times reported that King Salman has apparently been negotiating for control of Tiran and Sanafir for the last six years and that the islands were originally transferred over to Egypt by Saudi Arabia in 1950 to help keep them out of the hands of Israel.

It is a strategic move on the part of the Saudi king. This is because Tiran and Sanafir are both in the Gulf of Aqaba, which means that they’re right in the middle of where both Jordan and Israel have shipping lanes, and they are even near where there are actual ports.

Another reason that the Saudi’s may have wanted to gain ownership over the two islands is because Saudi Arabia is planning on building a bridge to Egypt, Gulf News reported. The map provided in the link shows that the bridge will use the island of Sanafir to connect Saudi Arabia to the cradle of humanity.

This is important because depending on the way this bridge is built, it could be used at some point in the future as a sort of barrier or blockade against the countries that depend on the Red Sea to get large amounts of goods in and out of their ports.

Container Ship and Port
A container ship gets ready to leave port. [Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]
Egypt — which is both a neighbor and ally of Saudi Arabia — has been in political and economic freefall since the Arab Spring uprising of 2011, when President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from office. There were eventually elections, and one Mohamed Morsi — an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood — was elected to office, only to be deposed in a military coup a year later.

Since then, many Egyptians have taken to looting museums, as well as many of the tombs that surround famous landmarks within the country. This has caused much of Egypt’s potential wealth to quite literally crumble, as many of the relics being taken are also being damaged as they’re stolen and subsequently sold on the black market, with most of the artifacts leaving the country.

If Saudi Arabia chooses wisely on how to proceed with Egypt, they may end up with a much stronger neighbor and ally in the long run, but no matter how much money is pumped into the system, it’s going to be a long, long time before large amounts of stability come to the country, and indeed the region.

[Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images]

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