Documents from UK Archives indicate Red Sea islands ‘Saudi’



Fri, 09 Jun 2017 - 03:34 GMT


Fri, 09 Jun 2017 - 03:34 GMT

Tiran- CC via Wikimedia

Tiran- CC via Wikimedia

CAIRO - 9 June 2017: A number of documents have been circulated on social media indicating that the two disputed Red Sea’s islands of Tiran and Sanafir between Cairo and Riyadh are “Saudi territories.”

The documents, which include two old letters, were shared by Egyptian Journalist Amr Gohar, a presenter of DC in Minutes talks show Washington D.C. for Ten TV. Gohar said that the documents are original copies from the UK National Archives.

The first document is a letter dated January 6, 1929 sent by former Director of General Survey of Egypt and former Egyptian Prime Minister Hussein Serry Pasha, responding to a question by the director general of Frontiers Administration on the ownership of the two Islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

“I have the honour to inform you that the question of the ownership of the two Islands of Tiran and Sanafir lying at the entrance of the Gulf of Akaba in the Red Sea has never been settled,” the letter reads.

In his letter, Serry tracked the Islands’ possession saying that it was reserved by Turkey in 1841 following the re-succession of Mohamed Ali Pasha to the throne of Egypt.

An agreement concluded after the delimitation of the Turkish and Egyptian Frontier in 1906 did not “give any mention of the boundary to the South of Akaba,” he added.

Serry then explained that the political situation of the islands “has not so far been settled;” however in geographical perspective, he said that they are located “within the Arabian and not the Sinai Zone as they lie in the Arabian section of the deep waters of the Gulf of Akaba.”

He continued saying that the “they are not at present (1929) inhabited and they should, it is presumed, belong to the first country occupying and appropriating them.”
On his Facebook page, Journalist Gohar said that the second document dates back to 1968.

It quoted former U.S. State Department spokesperson Robert James McCloskey who expressed U.S. concerns over the Israeli occupation to the disputed island of Tiran. He continued in the document that the “U.S. describes the island as Saudi territory.”

He continued that the “U.S. has been noted from the Israeli press reports that Israel forces had occupied the island of Tiran at the Straits of Tiran.”

“Tiran Island was a part of the blockading position that the Arabs sought to establish at the Straits last May.”

The third document dated back to 2013 reviewed the media reports on the Israeli occupation of the island; the document citied Israeli Radio saying “A Foreign Ministry Spokesman today confirmed a report that several months ago the American conveyed to Israel a request from Saudi Arabia for the evacuation of the Island of Tiran.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry replied that Israeli’s presence in Tiran was the result of the Island’s conquest by Egypt and that the fate of the island would be the same as that of the other areas now held by Israel.

Tiran and Sanafir are located in the narrow entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.

A long debate has persisted over the sovereignty of the Tiran and Sanafir islands, which Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi transferred to Saudi Arabia in an agreement in April 2016.

Egyptian officials say they belong to Saudi Arabia and have been under former Egyptian control only because Riyadh requested Cairo protect them in 1950.

On the other hand, a team of lawyers defending Egyptian sovereignty of the islands presented documents showing Egypt’s control over the territory dating back to 1906, at the time of the Ottoman Empire.

Over the past week, a number of experts cited historic agreements and recent studies, supporting the state-held stance on the Saudi sovereignty of the islands.

Egyptian constitutional law professor Salah Fawzy announced a study providing new facts that Saudi Arabia does indeed have sovereignty over the two disputed Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

Mufid Shehab, former minister of state for legal and parliamentary affairs, said all geographic and historical evidence affirms Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty over the two islands and Egypt’s agreed role as a temporary administrator of the territory.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently published 775,000 documents on its website dating back to the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula, which were declassified in 1995 by former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

Among these documents are satellite images taken from 1968-1971 depicting Israeli military activities in Tiran and Sanafir. In these records, the two islands are described as “Saudi territory occupied by Israel.”



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