Egypt professor of political science Moataz Abdel Fatah
I offer you my humble understanding of the legal status of "Tiran and Sanafir".
First, rights are either authentic or acquired. I have an inherent right to dispose of my property, and I am vested with the right to dispose of property from me, temporarily or permanently, to the right to dispose of something. For example, I "use" my brother's car, or "use" my sister's apartment. But, this "acquired" right to use is not equal to their "inherent" right to act, for example, by selling.
This is the first piece of information.
Second, the area of Egypt has widened and narrowed dozens of times in its history. Suffice it to say that Gamal Abdel Nasser is the first president to rule Egypt in some 2,500 years. The Egyptian nation was a country without actual sovereignty in choosing who governs or defines its borders. Let us proceed from this general provision to some details.
Egyptians, people, land and government, since Alexander the Great (at least 333 BC) have not been consulted regarding any decisions made about them. From here on we set out, and with us all the borders of Egypt to the age of the Ptolemaic then the Roman era, then the Persian then the Roman and the Arab Islamic conquest in which Egypt was an Islamic State, where a wali was identified along with the territory’s borders (i.e. our land) by the Caliph in the city (for about 30 years) then Damascus with the Umayyad state (about 100 years) then Kufa and then Baghdad in the first Abbasid period (about 100 years) until the Islamic Caliphate witnessed a retreat in the grip of the central authority in Baghdad, and we entered In the era of Egypt's relative independence from succession through the rule of the Tulunids (about 40 years) and then Ikshids(about another 40 years) then the Fatimid (about 200 years), then the Ayoubis (about 100 years) then the Mamluks (about 250 years) then Ottomans (about 300 years) before the popular will led by the sheikhs of Al-Azhar is moved on an exceptional basis to appoint Muhammad Ali, who soon rebuilt the structure of power and state boundaries in Egypt (About 150 years), then entered the era of the Republic after the 1952 revolution to narrow the borders of Egypt and expand according to the considerations of war and peace treaties.
That was history.
Third, Egypt's history has been reflected in its geography, that is, the area of its territory.
If any of us had mapped Egypt's maps since the pharaohs in a sequence of time and until now, they would find that it got longer and shorter, and wider and narrower in a very shocking way. The borders of Egypt extended until it reached the point that most of the Sudan was part of Egypt to the south and it reached the borders of Turkey now north, and it has "widened" that it has included the western part of the Arabian Peninsula and some of the territory of the Libyan state now, and in other times we find that it narrowed to the point that its length and width were almost identical to the border of the valley and the delta, for long periods where it was devoid of will and lack of sovereignty.
Fourth, were the two islands, Tiran and Sanafir, or one of them under the full control of Egypt at any stage of this long history? The answer is yes ... was one or both of them at any stage not under the control of the central authority in Egypt? The answer is yes.
Thus, the two islands were under the administration of the Egyptian state, when the borders of Egypt expanded, and the two islands were not under the administration of the Egyptian state when the borders of Egypt were narrowed down. Each time the state borders expanded and the two islands joined us, the State exercised protection and management rights and duties such as postal, police and naval patrols. This is its right and duty, and it is indisputable.
Fifth, the current generation of Egyptians has faced a difficult test with many questions for which they had no answers because our ancestors and parents have secretly said the opposite of what they have done in a confusing way. The example I used with some of those who asked me is that the status of two islands is like a person who told his son that "someone" is your father, and accordingly the child dealt with that person as his father, until he went to issue an ID for example and discovered that his father actually, is not that "person." The modern Egyptian person has entered the traditional stages of a person who learns disastrous news: then comes denial, then the rejection, then the rage and subsequently blaming others and accusing them of negligence or treason.
Let us get back to our modern history. Our ancestors from the era of King Farouk wrote in a document sent by the king himself in 1950 that Egypt would "occupy" the two islands to protect them. The question is: Why did King Farouk put us in this predicament? Why didn’t we have them without sending letters or correspondence? The problem was that he did, and even the Egyptian government at the time documented its letter to King Abdul Aziz al-Saud to inform England and America in the same sense for fear of Israel's occupation of them.
Then President Gamal Abdel Nasser, a rebel on the royal era, came in a notorious speech and interacted with millions of our ancestors, where he threatened, then actually carried out what he threatened by closure of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping as if it was an authentic Egyptian right. His words were repeated in the Egyptian radio and newspapers, so millions of Egyptians lived on the notion that the two islands were Egyptian. The issue of them being "non-Egyptian" was kept written or muffled information by those who have witnessed President Abdel Nasser’s rule. As it would sometimes appear in a book by Mr Heikal or would be mentioned by some specialists in their studies, and others disagree, and they would be right. As the head of state, Abdel Nasser, has unleashed an organic link (such as a body member's attachment to the rest of the body) between the two islands and Egypt. No one imagined this was an expression of the political and military maneuvers that were isolated from the paths of history and law. Then, whomever pleases would write in geography and history books taught to students that they are Egyptian, as well as, the military atlas without mentioning otherwise. Millions believe that the islands are Egyptian, as in the case of Cairo and Alexandria, for example.
The impasse is further deepened, when our are fathers make our responsibility more difficult and the Egyptian government, under President Mubarak's reign, sends a text (and does not announce it publicly and refrains from doing it), indicating that the two islands are Saudi in clear and unambiguous terms in a speech recorded by Saudi Arabia at the United Nations in 1990.
With these two events in particular (I mean 1950 in the monarchy and 1990 in the Mubarak era), Egypt recognized that it has acquired rights to the islands based on the authorization of the owner of the inherent right, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Without these two speeches, things would have been quite different for the current Egyptian administration.
The drama reaches its max when the Saudi government has in the last several years demarcated the border of its territory with the surrounding countries except Egypt. The demarcation of the border: the establishment of fictitious (i.e. man-made) lines on maps using aerial imagery to indicate the territory in which the State exercises its sovereignty and in which this state alone has the right of use and exploitation. Thanks to the progress of the art of cartography, the majority of the world's political boundaries, which separate one state from another, are clearly defined and precise.
Unfortunately, the Kingdom’s desire for demarcation only left Egypt to suffer from the negative effects of the last years of the Mubarak era, then the post-revolution period and the period of chaos in the era of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian administration and its institutions has gone back to the documents to discover that previous administrations have adopted a strategy: "The islands are not ours but we are not going to give them back". Whether it is an ethical or an issue of interest, the current administration has found that this is an issue that must be resolved and ventured into what the previous administrations have not ventured into.
Opponents of the conduct of the Egyptian administration were divided into six teams that I observed and had discussions with. I can only describe them as patriots, even if they describe me as what is not.
The first group sees that the islands as Egyptian, whatever the evidence that led the Egyptian administration to recognize that they’re Saudi Arabian.
The second group hate Saudi Arabia and see it as the root of all evils, and if the two islands were handed over to others, they would not have been equally reluctant.
The third group thinks they are not entirely Egyptian, but we could have procrastinated so as not to recognize them as the formers did.
The fourth group believes that they are not Egyptian but the way in which they were announced is incorrect and the file should have been managed in a more detailed and clear way since the very beginning of signing the agreement or even before it.
The fifth group thinks they are not Egyptian, but the price paid to Egypt could have been much higher because of Egypt's protection.
The sixth group of those who believe that the administrative court ruling should have been a case for bringing the issue to Arab arbitration (belonging to the League of Arab States) or international and a record of history.
What I understand and what I have demanded from the beginning is that the two islands become a platform for cooperation and not for conflict. There is an Egyptian-Saudi plan announcing the King Salman Bridge connecting the two islands and Saudi projects in southern Sinai, which will make them for the investor and the Gulf tourist as is the case in Dubai and Bahrain.
I expect the two countries to have giant projects befitting them and their need for each other.
I do not have the luxury of questioning the national leadership of the Egyptian state based on a subject that is inherently ambiguous, cumbersome, perplexed and somewhat confusing.
There’s an old saying: "There is no denying in what’s different” I don't deny anyone the right to choose one of the words from several controversial statements in the first place. Recently, I say: "Do not be fooled by decisions in which evidence overlaps" because it is not as categorical as each side imagines.
As Egypt lives, the Egyptians should live under the flag of their country, diverse but united.