Former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq has called for evidence supporting the claim of Saudi sovereignty over the two Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir to be made public.
Egypt's statement on Friday that the islands in the Gulf of Aqaba – long believed to be under Egyptian sovereignty – fall within Saudi waters triggered a wave of controversy and confusion. The acknowledgement is pending the Egyptian parliament’s ratification.
“Let’s refer to the people, and I repeat this, let’s refer to the people, before we issue our decisions, and before we push them into commitments that they can’t do or won’t accept,” Shafiq’s statement read.
Shafiq presented both viewpoints of the islands’ ownership and said in order for one side to be proven, the historic documents that support it should be presented, along with the documents that support the idea that Egypt had only a temporary mandate to oversee the islands.
He also stressed that if there was a mandate, an answer has to be given as to whether the reasons behind its issuing were now concluded.
On Tuesday, the Egyptian cabinet issued a statement detailing historical documents, including newspaper articles and letters from Saudi officials, which supported the claim that the islands belong to Saudi Arabia and were temporarily ceded to Egypt.
Also in his statement, Shafiq also said that Egypt had witnessed “bad events in recent times” giving examples of “the disaster of the Nile water following the [construction of the] Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam,” and “the sudden collapse of our special, traditional relationship with the Italian people.”
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been under construction since 2012 on the Blue Nile; some experts are concerned it could negatively affect downstream Egypt once completed.
Shafiq, briefly Egyptian prime minister in early 2011, lost the final round of the presidential election to Mohamed Morsi in 2012. He has resided in the UAE since then, citing "security reasons".