An aerial view of the coast of the Red Sea and the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir is pictured through the window of an airplane near Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 1, 2016. Picture taken November 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
CAIRO – 3 March 2018: Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court stated on Saturday that the implementation of a maritime border accord between Cairo and Riyadh on two Red Sea disputed islands (Tiran and Sanafir) is valid as it is an action specialized only by a sovereign authority.
As per the court decision, the two islands, located on the entrance of Aqaba Gulf in the Red Sea, fall under the Saudi sovereignty. In April 2016, Egypt and Saudi Arabia reached a deal, per which the two disputed islands become under Saudi sovereignty.
The deal, which was ratified by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in June 2017, stirred up judicial controversy.
The court, the highest judiciary authority in Egypt, also annulled a previous ruling that suspended two contradictory verdicts concerning the deal. In June, the Commissioners Authority of the Supreme Constitutional Court issued a report stating that both Council Courts (the Administrative and Supreme Administrative) and the State of Commissioners, represented by the government, took different approaches while coming up with their respective rulings, and therefore both rulings are proven to be legally unsound.
In April, the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters ruled that the judicial decision to keep Egyptian sovereignty over the two islands was “null and void.” Parliament followed suit and asserted Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty over the Red Sea islands.
During Saudi King Salman bin Abdel-Aziz's 2016 visit to Egypt, several political and economic agreements were signed, the most important of which is the maritime border accord that recognized the Saudi sovereignty over the strategic islands.