Watch: Saudi, Egyptian analysts spar over islands

Egyptian analyst accuses Saudi guest of buying strategic islands to 'build bridges to the Zionist enemy,' get military aid from Israel.

Tova Dvorin ,

Saudi flag
Saudi flag

Egyptian and Saudi political analysts erupted into a heated debate earlier this month on live television, according to footage salvaged and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), over a land transference deal indirectly relating to Israel. 

The two islands, Sanafir and Tiran, are located off the coast of Eilat, Israel's southernmost port city. The two islands provide Israel's only access to the port of Aqaba. Egyptian blockage of the passage in 1967 preempted the Six-Day War.

Prior to the Six Day War, Saudi Arabia asked Egypt to protect the islands from Israel way back in 1950. Under the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, Israel handed the islands back to Egypt; last week, they transferred ownership to Saudi Arabia - after consulting first with Israel. 

Saudi Political Analyst Khaled Batraf dismissed claims the agreement had anything to do with Israel, venting his frustrations on Russia Today (RT).  

"All that empty talk about America, Israel, and the accursed Jews is injected into any debate on Arab matters," Batrafi said. "Even if we wanted to inject Israel..."

Muhammad Sayyid Ahmad, Secretary of Political Affairs for the Arab Nasserist Party, responded, "Are they not enemies? Have the Americans and the Zionists become your sweethearts?"

"You want to take over those two islands in order to build bridges to the Zionist entity, so that it can protect you and provide you with military aid," he continued. "This is the soundest analysis. This is obvious."

"The Zionist enemy is our number one enemy. Don't talk to me about "empty talk"!," he added. "This is the truth. The Zionist enemy is the enemy of the nation. All your rulers, the rulers of the Gulf, prostrate themselves (in submission). These are the treacherous and collaborating Arab reactionaries, who supported the destructive Zio-American enterprise."

"You do not go to Palestine (to fight). Young Palestinian girls are defending Palestine, while these pseudo-men do not go to Palestine. Instead, they go to Yemen and to Syria. I completely reject this kind of talk." 

Batrafi hit back, "I'm sad to say that this is the Nasserist rhetoric that led to the loss of the Sinai Peninsula and of the two islands. When Ahmed Said announced, on Egyptian radio, and (Mohamed Hassanein) Heikal announced, in the Al-Ahram newspaper, the downing of 200 or 300 (Israeli) airplanes, and spoke about the "(Arab) reactionary forces"..."

"This is the Nasserist rhetoric that caused the loss of the Arab nation and Palestine...," he added. 

"You are the ones who conspired against the Arab nation in the past, and you are doing the same now," Ahmad interjected. "You want to fragment the Arab nation."