Egypt demos continue against deal giving islands to Saudi


Maritime border deal inked last week between Cairo and Riyadh effectively ceded two Egyptian islands in Red Sea to Saudi Arabia

By Hussein Mahmoud

CAIRO – Limited demonstrations continued for the second day in a row on Saturday to protest Egypt’s decision last week to cede two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

In a Saturday statement, Egypt’s “Youth against the Coup” movement, which calls for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, said it had held a protest at Alexandria University under the banner “You will not sell Egypt”, in reference to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader, was ousted in a 2013 military coup largely supported by Saudi Arabia.

According to the statement, students also staged protests at Tanta University in the Nile Delta.

The pro-Morsi National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy, for its part, also held a demonstration in Egypt’s Menoufiya province while calling for continued to protests throughout the week.

According to a maritime border agreement inked last week between Cairo and Riyadh, the Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran — which for decades had been Egyptian possessions — were put within Saudi territorial waters.

The agreement caused outrage among much of the Egyptian public and the country’s embattled political opposition.

Several other political groups, including the April 6 youth movement, announced plans to send a convoy to the two islands, on which they said they would raise the Egyptian flag.

April 6 — which played a prominent role in the 2011 uprising that force autocratic president Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power — has also announced plans to stage demonstrations on April 25 to coincide with Egypt’s “Sinai Liberation Day”, which commemorates the final stage of Israel’s withdrawal from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 1989.

On Friday, more than 100 people were reportedly arrested by the authorities after protesters staged limited demonstrations in Cairo and other parts of the country to demonstrate against what they described as the al-Sisi regime’s “surrender” of the two islands to Riyadh.

Protesters also chanted slogans demanding that al-Sisi step down.

In some areas, clashes were reported between protesters and security forces, according to local witnesses.

On the eve of Friday’s demonstrations, which were supported by a number of opposition groups, Egypt’s Interior Ministry had warned the public against taking part in any “illegitimate” protests.

Tiran Island (80 square kilometers) and Sanafir Island (33 square kilometers) both lie at the entrance of the Strait of Tiran and are therefore of considerable strategic significance.