CAIRO, 9 June, 2017: Three-minute video showing antique regional maps of Egypt and the Arab region has gone viral across social media. The video presents a series of old maps documenting Tiran and Sanafir islands as falling under Saudi Arabian sovereignty.
The video traces the maps all the way back to 1800 and supports the recent border demarcation findings that the islands fall in Saudi Arabia’s territorial waters.
The oldest map, inked in 1800, indicates that Tiran and Sanafir Islands do not fall under Egyptian sovereignty. The map in fact shows that Sinai falls completely under the jurisdiction of the Arab peninsula, except for the northern part running across to Gaza and the southern border with Sudan running to Halayeb and Shalatin. The Western Desert at the time comprised only one-third of the area.
The second map, dated 1900, displays Egypt’s borders shaded in red. In yellow are the borders of the Ottoman Empire. The two islands of Tiran and Sanafir appear in yellow.
The third map dates to 1947 and covers the Arab world except Egypt. All the areas on this map, including the Islands of Tiran and Sanafir, appear in white as do the other Arab countries.
The fourth and final map, produced in 1955, clearly shows lines running between the borders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In this document the islands are obviously under Saudi sovereignty.
“All this time I have been addressing our state institutions: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and state intelligence with their classified archives to [determine the status of these islands]. The committees [working on this mission] are highly specialized,” President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi is quoted as saying in the video.
“We have not given up our rights in any way. Instead we’ve given back someone else’s rights. We do not sell our land to anyone and we do not take anyone’s land either,” Sisi added.
In the video, head of the President’s Office under former President Abdel Nasser General Mahmoud Ibrahim is seen to concur with Sisi’s proclamations.
“There is no feud between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. All the documents really do prove that the islands are Saudi. Egypt itself acknowledges that. In 1990 Prime Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid admitted as much in a letter to Saudi Arabia,” Ibrahim said.
“Our faith in the Egyptian Army must stand strong. Our army has never given up a grain of Egyptian sand and never will,” Ibrahim assured.
Explaining the chronology of events is Mostafa El Fiqqi, secretary of State Information under Former Prsident Hosni Mubarak. “The two islands were under the patronage of Egypt for a number of political reasons, Saudi Arabia never exercised any political action over the islands, nor were they populated by either Egyptians or Saudis. They were not habitable and their main use was for tourism and diving,” El Fiqqi clarified.
“President Sisi would never give away Egypt’s land to someone unless it were indeed their right to begin with,” El Fiqqi said at the end of the video.
The video appears on the heels of the Parliament’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee mandate to discuss the maritime demarcation deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, on Sunday.
The three-day discussion will consider the government’s approval of the accord; in April 2015, the Egyptian Cabinet announced that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, located at the entrance of Red Sea’s Al-Aqaba Gulf, are Saudi Territories.
A recent study conducted by Egyptian constitutional law professor Salah Fawzy provided new facts that Saudi Arabia does indeed have sovereignty over the two disputed Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir.
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.
Tiran and Sanafir are located in the narrow entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. Egyptian officials say they belong to Saudi Arabia and have been under former Egyptian control only because Riyadh requested Cairo protect them in 1950.