Egypt's parliament yesterday voted to approve an agreement transferring the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, the most unpopular step by President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi since he took power in 2014.
The move came after two parliamentary committees endorsed the agreement. Political activists voiced outrage over what is seen as a sell out of national territory to Saudi Arabia while legislators and commentators said parliament has no business deciding the issue since a January court ruling rejected transfer of the islands, plans for which were first announced during an April 2016 visit to Egypt by Saudi King Salman.
During the visit, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed a series of agreements on a range of topics involving some 25 billion dollars. The Saudis clearly wanted some return on their cash and Sisi may have reckoned that relinquishing the islands was less costly than committing Egyptian troops to the Saudi war in Yemen.