American Axios website revealed that Egypt had suspended the implementation of the “Tiran and Sanafir” agreement, the two strategic islands in the Red Sea.
Four Israeli officials and an American source said, “Egypt has suspended the implementation of an agreement regarding two strategic islands in the Red Sea”.
The sources said that Egypt in recent weeks began to express reservations, most of which are of a technical nature, including about installing cameras on the islands that were part of the agreement, noting that the cameras are supposed to monitor activity in Tiran and Sanafir, as well as in Strait of Tiran.
Israeli officials confirmed to Axios website that “the agreement, including the withdrawal of the multinational force from the islands, won’t be implemented by the end of this month due to Egyptian reservations”.
They added that they “believe that Egypt is stalling the deal due to bilateral issues between the United States and Egypt, including US military assistance”.
The administration of US President Joe Biden had twice previously frozen 10% of the about $1.3 billion in military aid that it allocates to Egypt annually, on the pretext of human rights concerns.
On April 8, 2016, Cairo and Riyadh concluded an agreement to demarcate the borders, which stipulated “the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir dependency to Saudi Arabia,” and this caused widespread legal controversy in Egypt, anger and protest demonstrations.
The Egyptian judiciary, whose decisions “contradicted,” issued a decision to cancel all of them. It was issued by the Supreme Constitutional Court in June 2017. However, in the same month, the Egyptian Parliament approved the border demarcation agreement, then President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ratified it, and it was published in the Official Gazette.
The actual transfer of sovereignty over the two islands to Saudi Arabia remained subject to the approval of the Israeli occupation government, which later agreed to the matter, because the two islands are part of the “Camp David” normalization agreements concluded between the occupation government and the Sadat regime at the time.
On March 3, the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo announced the entry into force of the agreement that stipulated the transfer of ownership of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.
Biden announced, against the background of reaching an agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia regarding the two islands, that the US forces present there under the title “peacekeeping” will leave by the end of this year, during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on the sidelines of his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Tiran Island is located at the entrance to the Strait of Tiran, which separates the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea.
It is 6 km from the eastern coast of Sinai and 8 km from the western coast of Saudi Arabia.
The area of the island is 80 km².
It is located 3 km east of Tiran Island, with an area of 33 km².
The strategic importance of them lies in the three waterways around them, where two are located between Tiran Island and Sharm el Sheikh, and the depth of the first is 290 meters and is called the “Enterprise” corridor, which is the only navigable corridor.
The second corridor is called the “Grafton” corridor, and its depth is 73 meters, and the third corridor is located between the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, and its depth is only 16 meters.
These islands control the only entrances to the Strait of Tiran, which is 4.5 km wide, and is the only gateway to the Gulf of Aqaba, which makes it control the international navigation traffic and enables the controlling party to close navigation in the Gulf at any time in the direction of the port of Eilat and the port of Aqaba in Jordan.
These islands are also characterized by great tourist and natural importance, as they contain rare coral colonies and are considered a settlement for a large number of rare marine life and migratory birds, and a special place for diving tourism.