Timeline of 2016 Saudi-Egyptian maritime demarcation agreement

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read
  • 8 April – Agreement signed

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud attended the signing ceremony of several cooperation agreements in various fields, according to the State Information Services (SIS). At the bottom of several agreements, SIS mentions that “Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman bin Abdelaziz signed an agreement on maritime border demarcation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia”.

Amid little state transparency, concerns regarding the agreement are voiced on social media networks and in the media.

  • 9 April – Agreement details revealed

In its second press release for the day, the cabinet states that among the important achievements of the Saudi king’s visit “there was also the signing of the maritime border agreement, which would enable the two states to economically benefit from the region”.

The cabinet declares that Tiran and Sanafir islands were relocated to be inside Saudi Arabia’s regional waters. This is the first official acknowledgment of the cessation of the islands.

The cabinet states that the two states were negotiating the issue for more than six years through a committee, which based its decision on letters exchanged between the two countries. The letters include a request sent by the Saudi king in 1950 demanding Egypt handle the protection of the islands.

  • 10 April – Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali and others file a lawsuit before the State Council demanding the annulment of the maritime border agreement.
  • 13 April – As criticism mounts on the state’s handling of the issue and debate increases, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi holds a meeting with a number of “representatives of society” in Itihadiya Palace, in which he calls on their allegiance, reaffirms Saudi sovereignty over the islands, and prevents discussion from preceding on the issue.

The regime begins to crackdown on dissidents, which includes arresting activists.

  • 15 April – Nationwide demonstrations take place against the maritime demarcation agreement. Protesters chant against Al-Sisi and maintain that the islands are Egyptian. One of the largest protests in Cairo takes place at the Press Syndicate.

            More arrests take place, followed by trials.

  • 21 April – A local newspaper leaks comments from a meeting between Al-Sisi and Ministry of Interior officials, reporting that the president ordered a tight grip so that “the incidents of last week are not repeated”.

A statement from the presidency denies the media report.

The same night, police storm cafes and carry out random arrests, in addition to raiding the houses of several political activists.

The raids continue the next day.

  • 25 April – Protests take place once more, resulting in a high number of arrests of youth and journalists. Hundreds of youth face trials amid public controversy.
  • 14-15 May – Prison terms issued for groups of protesters.
  • 23 May – Political parties launch sit-in in protest of agreement.
  • 25 May – Court reverses some of the prison verdicts, but refuses to drop heavy fines.
  • 30 May – Trial contesting islands demarcation unfolds as the government is fined for not presenting required documents to the court.
  • 5 JuneAcquittals in protest cases begin.
  • 14 June – Trial continues for contestation lawsuits, as lawyers present documents proving Egypt’s sovereignty over the islands.
  • 21 June – State Council verdict annuls agreement, affirms Egyptian sovereignty over the islands.


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