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Sisi moves into damage control following island transfer uproar

The decision to concede sovereignty of islands was poorly received by the Egyptian public.
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On April 4, Egypt signed a maritime border agreement with Saudi Arabia in the presence of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. Six days later, the Egyptian Council of Ministers announced that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, both located in the Red Sea, were Saudi territory based on surveys by the National Committee for Egyptian Maritime Border Demarcation and on 11 rounds of meetings held between the two sides over several months. The committee had worked for six years; a number of Egyptian politicians criticized the agreement. Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi called on Sisi and Salman to withdraw the agreement and consider it null and void. He denounced Saudi Arabia for putting itself in a suspicious position for exploiting Egypt's need, saying, "It is not worthy for Egypt to appear as complying because of need.”

Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali announced April 10 that he filed a lawsuit against what he described as "conceding" the islands of Tiran and Sanafir. He called for turning the popular anger into a demand for putting up the agreement to a referendum according to the Egyptian Constitution.

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