The president of Egypt Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was the first president to congratulate Donald Trump with a victory. What purpose did Field Marshal Sisi serve, he just wanted to express his congratulations or Marshal had far-reaching plans. With a request to comment on this issue, we turned to Cairo-based journalist and political analyst Bassem Aly.
It is generally challenging to determine the final shape of any US president-elect’s foreign policy towards the Middle East, which is undoubtedly the case with Donald Trump. In addition to the fact that he did not either enter the White House or form an administration until now, the only factor that can give indications about the manner through which Trump will deal with regional issues involves the political discourse he adopted throughout the whole campaign stage.
Based on the speeches of Trump, one can apparently conclude that he is keen on strengthening joint relations with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his government, as he believes that the ouster of Mubarak brought more trouble than benefits on all levels. Trump has always criticized Obama’s administration for allowing regime change to take place in several Arab states—including Egypt—in the post-uprisings phase. This, as a matter of fact, was noticeable long time before the late US presidential race. In December 2012, Trump tweeted that Egypt is in a “total mess”, and argued that Washington should have supported Mubarak “instead of dropping him like a dog.” Hence—for Trump— the presence of El-Sisi in power offers a strong opportunity for guaranteeing domestic stability inside Egypt, a key, long-time US ally in the region. This perception by the new US president will normally indicate providing Egypt with further political, economic and military assistance, for—without such package—prospects of unrest will most likely increase in Egypt.
Any observer of the US-Egyptian relations can easily conclude a divergence between both approaches of Trump and Obama in regards to relations with Egypt. As Trump is highly skeptical of change in political leadership in Egypt—mainly based on his negative standpoint concerning the aftermath of the 2011 uprising in the country—Obama was not seemingly concerned with the such aspect of the equation. For example, his administration suspended economic aid—worth millions of US dollars—to Egypt due to its dissatisfaction with the post-Morsi political scene amid a massive economic crisis. These moves caused deterioration in US-Egyptian relations that reached a stage in which pro-regime figures in Egypt accused Obama of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Such conditions can explain the apparent state of optimism among the Egyptian political circles following the election of Trump, for it will give room for having better relations with the Americans, a situation that would have been in question if a new Democratic administration was elected.