Although the Egyptian courts have decided beyond reasonable doubt and after extensive reviews of both the government’s and the people’s documents regarding the border demarcation agreement, the Egyptian regime decided to refer the now void agreement to parliament for voting. This is contrary to both the law and the constitution. Everyone knew that once it went to parliament, and given that parliament has been chosen by state security in the first place, they would approve the agreement and ignore the courts. Several lawyers, among them Khaled Ali and Tarek al Awadi filed lawsuits against the government insisting the government should uphold the law and rejecting parliament’s intervention.
In April, the Court of Urgent Matters voided the ruling halting transfer of islands to Saudi Arabia. This lawsuit was not even filed by government but was filed by a lawyer, Ashraf Farahat. This ruling is subject to appeal but also the matter is already at the Constitutional Court which will offer its own ruling in July.
On 14 July, after a very contentious week, where the members of the liberal 25-30 opposition parliamentary block, objected to the agreement, parliament’s speaker of the house Abdel Aal stated that the agreement was approved by a majority of votes to the utter dismay of the members. The 25-30 block said they were not only not given the time to discuss or to show their own documents, but they were denied the voting forms. In total, 100 members objected of the 596 members, with several members absent under various excuses. As Abdel Aal announced the approval, parliament erupted and members yelled “[the islands are] Egyptian, Egyptian.” In a shocking video, a parliamentarian responded by chanting ‘Saudi, Saudi.’ Some already were holding and waving Saudi flags!!
It should be noted the President Sisi was in Germany meeting with Merkel during all this and talking to her about how Egypt was a country ruled by law.
- In the media, parliament and government said they would bring in ‘experts’ to testify whether the islands were Egyptian or Saudi. Among the people they brought in was Heidi Farouk, a maritime and border demarcation expert hired prior to the revolution by former intelligence chief General Omar Soliman to investigate the demarcation issue of the two islands of Tiran and Sanafeer and her conclusion was that they were “100% Egyptian”. When she tried to explain why she came to that conclusion to parliament, she was attacked by the pro-Sisi group and especially foul-mouthed parliamentarian and lawyer Mortada Mansour. He even accused her of being paid by foreigners to testify erroneously. She requested the media leave the room so she can disclose confidential secret documents proving her points, but her request was denied. Farouk left the session in tears and when others tried to stop her she stated: “Look, I have a child I want to raise” and walked out.
- When experts and other parliamentarians pointed to already existing court decisions against the agreement, House Speaker Abdel Aal stated “we will not take into consideration any court ruling regarding Tiran and Sanafir.”
السيد رئيس مجلس النواب : لن نعتد بأي حكم قضائي صادر بشأن تيران وصنافير .
- Parliamentarian Nadia Henry screamed and wept as the decision was passed. Earlier in the session as she tried defending the islands, parliamentarian Ghada Agami told her to stop what she was doing and ‘go to the Americans that pay her to speak.’ Henry filed a complaint against her colleague.
“روحي للأمريكان بتوعك يلبسوا أسود، وخدي من قرايبك الأمريكان فلوس عشان تتكلمي”.
- Parliamentarian Mona Gaballah openly wept as well as she left the session.
- Parliamentarian Tharwat Bekhit claimed he did not vote for the agreement but in the voting forms, his name shows he has voted for the transfer of the islands.
- Parliamentarian Abu Shoka stated that he was absent from the session because he was in court.
- Former Mubarak vice president and presidential candidate Ahmed Shafeek – living in self-exile in the Emirates – has stated on TV that the islands were Egyptian.
- Al Nur Salafi party stated that they accepted the demarcation agreement after careful study of the documents and they do not wish to take away a ‘brother country’s rights.’
- Parliamentarian and film director Khaled Yousef told the media that they will not leave parliament’s session even if state security came to take them out.
- Parliamentarian Anissa Hassouna merely stated on Twitter that while many people asked to speak, the speaker of the house just said discussion was closed and voted yes.
- Parliamentarian John Talaat stated on his Facebook account that he trusts Sisi explicity and trusts the state’s institutions.
- Former Ambassador and current political activist Motassem Marzouk went on a hunger strike ‘until death’ because of the islands.
- Parliamentarian Haytham Al Hariri wrote an article about the ‘worst 4 hours in the history of parliament’ descirbing the events that took place during the voting session.
- Following the agreement approval the 25-30 block issued a statement that they will remain in parliament to fight from within. Many people have called for their resignation to prove a point but the block decided not to resign. They definitely lost the respect of many Egyptians who considered them traitors too.
- Geologist Farouk Al Baz stated in a letter to parliament as an expert that the islands ‘geologically’ belonged to Saudi Arabia. To which NASA scientist Heggi who was not asked to testify, responded in the media that this was nonsense and proved his point with maps.
- Government head stated that the Saudis owned the islands since the tribe of Qureish. [Not kidding!!]
الحكومة لمجلس النواب: “تيران وصنافير” مِلك قريش
- crackdown on activists and opposition several days before and after the agreement announcement.
- blocking of 67 online news sites and confiscation of offline newspapers
- closure of Sadat underground station which leads directly into Tahrir [always closed when anticipating demonstrations]
- police and army moblized in the streets in anticipation of protests
- several attempted street protests were instantly dispersed by security and police. Police chased Khaled Ali and former ESDP Secretary General Ahmed Fawzy into a building as they tried to a protest.
In the news:
- Egypt gives Saudi Arabia islands in show of gratitude. [Eng.]
- تقرير «نيويورك تايمز» والذي اعترف فيه «الملك سلمان» أن مصر أهدت السعودية #تيران_وصنافير مقابل المال
- الجبالي: على البرلمان انتظار حكم الدستورية.. ورئيس النواب لا يقرأ الدستور للأسف
Social media jokes and stings:
Tweep says the Egyptian army may have to strike Saudi Arabia militarily if it refused to take the islands.
Group called Street Children singing: my dear Egypt, minus two islands:
Tweep Sally Soliman: Go on, bring the Egyptian flag down while wearing your military uniform
The moment the speaker of the house announced approval of the demarcation agreement:
- Former Egyptian President Abdel Nasser on Tiran and Sanafeer
- Former parliamentarian created a video to respond to parliament.
- Another important video by same parliamentarian.
- The story of the islands
- Taqadom Al Khateeb on the islands from Yusri Foda’s TV show on Deutsche Welle.
June 24th: President Sisi signed a presidential decree confirming parliament’s decision that the islands are Saudi following a constitutional court’s decision.
Incidentally, even though judges chose a judge named Dakroori as their president of judge’s club, Sisi overturned that decision and appointed his own judge, an act that is the first of its kind in the history of the Egyptian judiciary. The reason is that Judge Dakroori had issued a verdict in the islands’ case confirming they were Egyptian and not Saudi. Judge Dakroori is currently filing a law suit against his removal.
Masters student and journalist Taqadum al Khatib stated that he was being persecuted in Germany by the Egyptian embassy who insisted on having his passport and him opening his Facebook account in order to renew his passport. This is because of he had gathered papers in Germany and in the US proving the islands were Egyptian. The embassy also asked him about his position on the islands and the papers. When he asked if this was a ‘state security’ interview, they affirmed it.