Egypt stands firm on islands move
Egypt has defended its decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia at an appeals court hearing after the move was struck down by a lower court last week. The transfer of the islands, announced during an April visit by King Salman alongside billions of dollars in Saudi aid, set off the biggest street protests since President Abdel-Fattah El Sissi was elected two years ago. Critics of the maritime border agreement accuse the government of selling off sovereign territory. The government insists the islands of Tiran and Sanafir always belonged to Saudi Arabia but were placed under Egyptian protection in 1950. “Successive Egyptian governments have acknowledged Saudi ownership but postponed handing them over until conditions in the region stabilised,” said the chief government lawyer, Rafiq Omar.