Tiran and Sanafeer – the verdict

Judge Yehya Dakroori

Judge Yehya Dakroori

The State Council Court has revoked the maritime demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, annulling any signatures on the agreement of the transfer of the islands of Tiran and Sanafeer. State Council Vice President Judge Yeya Dakroori  with a long history of outstanding verdicts, was the presiding judge

Lawyer Khalid Ali coming out of the State Council Court

Lawyer Khalid Ali coming out of the State Council Court

The lawsuit against the agreement was filed by lawyer Khaled Ali with many prominent figures participating in the suit. In court, after the verdict was pronounced, Khaled Ali chanted: “bread, freedom, this land is Egyptian” – عيش حرية الارض دى مصرية

This is by far a great victory for Egyptians – including myself – who have spoken out against the agreement, and a victory to all those who were arrested while protesting the agreement. The verdict, dated June 21, 2016, is not final and could be overturned by the Supreme Administrative court which is a higher court. The government already announced that it was studying details of the appeal. Nevertheless it is still a powerful verdict not only in its text but also in its long and short term effects:

  • Based on that verdict, a lawyer filed a lawsuit against government consultant Dr. Mofeed Shehab for ‘spreading false information about the islands’ – similar to the accusations by the state against those it had arrested for their protests – stating that they spread false information also.
  •  Lawyer Ragia Omran stated that she will present this verdict in her defense against those protesters accused of spreading false information about the islands. Lawyer Malek Adly, one of the lawyers who co-filed the lawsuit with Ali against the deal, has been in detention since late April, facing charges of spreading false rumors and inciting protests against the agreement.
  • Parliamentarian Nadya Henri demanded that those arrested for protesting the agreement be instantly released and paid compensation as per the constitution.
  • Parliament has no right to vote on the agreement until the appeal is completed.

Some newspapers wondered whether this was a ‘way out’ for the government rather than a truly genuine verdict – but the verdict’s repercussions tend to lead otherwise.

نص منطوق الحكم:

فى ٢١ يونيه ٢٠١٦ والصادر من دائرة الحقوق والحريات بمجلس الدولة المصري برئاسة المستشار يحى الدكروري:

رفض الدفع بعدم الاختصاص الولائي.

قبول الدعوى شكلاً، وبطلان توقيع ممثل الحكومة المصرية على اتفاقية ترسيم الحدود البحرية بين جمهورية مصر العربية والمملكة العربية السعودية الموقعة فى إبريل ٢٠١٦ المتضمنة التنازل عن جزيرتي تيران وصنافير للمملكة العربية السعودية مع ما ترتب على ذلك من آثار، أخصها استمرار هاتين الجزيرتين ضمن الإقليم البرى المصرى وضمن حدود الدولة المصرية، واستمرار السيادة المصرية، عليهما، وحظر تغيير وضعها بأى شكل أو إجراء لصالح أى دولة

Text of the complete verdict [ AS PDF ]

Jubilation on Twitter:

Social media was abuzz with the news of the verdict from the moment it was pronounced.

Some satirized public figures who supported the government’s claim:




Update December 2016:

2016 ended with  the Supreme Administrative Court by adjourning the decision to annul the agreement to Jan 16, 2017, with its final ruling on the government’s appeal of a June sentence that annulled the deal originally struck in April. The government announced it has accepted the deal and that it will transfer it to Parliament for approval, even as the case is pending in court.

According to lawyer Malek Adly and Khaled Ali who had initially filed the lawsuit contesting the transfer and also according to Law Professor Nour Farahat, the government’s current decision violates the Constitution, given that it ignores a previous court ruling in June issued by the Administrative Court invalidating the agreement. They filed another complaint stating that the government is now facing criminal charges for accepting and passing the deal to parliament while the case is still pending in court and thus ignoring the initial court ruling that annulled the deal.

According to MadaMasr newspaper, “the government’s surprising move follows an unannounced visit to Cairo by Torky bin Abdel Mohsen, a consultant to the Saudi royal court. Abdel Mohsen accompanied Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz on his visit to Egypt in April, when the deal was brokered.”

Update December 2016: 

  • An employee at the State Council was arrested for ‘bribery’. Upon storming his house, he was allegedly in possession cash money in the millions. His total worth was estimated at 150 million pounds in liquid money and assets. The administrative auditing authority also demanded lifting the immunity of the Secretary General of the State Council, Justice Wael Shalabi, and he too was arrested in the evening. A new Secertary General was appointed early the following morning. It should be noted that the State Council was the entity that ruled against the demarcation agreement.

Update January 2, 2017:

  • Justice Wael Shalabi allegedly committed suicide by hanging in his prison cell. His lawyer denies he committed suicide. He had been interrogated all night and was told of the accusations that Al Labban, the employee at the State Council, had leveled against him. He allegedly threatened to commit suicide. He was allegedly found hanging by his kefiiyeh. Doubts were expressed about his suicide but the attorney general immediately put a gag order on the case.

  • A protest in front of the high court downtown Cairo to object to the demarcation agreement being given to parliament for voting.  وقفة احتجاجية امام دار القضاء العالي وشارع 26 يوليو للتنديد بتسليم تيران وصنافير
  • the government had decided to send the Tiran and Sanafeer file to parliament for approval even though the case was still being reviewed in court. People erupted in protests.
  • The ‘Lovers of Egypt’ coalition decided to organize a conference on Tiran and Sanfeer with guest speakers parliamentarian Mostafa Bakri and the Former Assistant Director of Military Intelligence – of course to prove the islands are Saudi.
  • 12 protesters were arrested in front of the journalism syndicate.
  • Another protest was in front of the High Court downtown Cairo.



An officer among the protesters told them that he was with them but they had orders to do this:

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