The Trump administration is cleaning up yet another one of Barack Obama’s messes, this time by restoring ties with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Obama cut off anti-terrorist military aid to el-Sisi after he ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from the Egyptian presidency. El-Sisi is an outspoken opponent of radical Islam, and has been fighting a relentless war to exterminate the Muslim Brotherhood.
Just who is el-Sisi, and why is he such an important ally for the United States in the fight against terror?
The elected President of Egypt, el-Sisi is the former Minister of Defense and Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces. In that capacity, he was a valued ally of the United States, fighting the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
That conflict reached a boiling point in 2011 when the Muslim Brotherhood took advantage of civil unrest and a Brotherhood loyalist, Mohamed Morsi, became President.
An avowed Islamist and supporter of the terrorist group, Morsi openly claimed the United State engineered the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and as President, gave himself virtually unlimited powers to install an Islamist regime.
Unwilling to hand his country over to Islamic terrorists, el-Sisi led a revolt against Morsi.
The Obama administration reacted to the loss of the Islamist regime by suspending the military aid it had given to the Muslim Brotherhood-backed leader.
Immensely popular with the Egyptian people, el-Sisi was eventually elected President. Obama refused to lift the sanctions, even as el-Sisi fought Islamic terrorists seeking to exterminate Egypt’s Christian population.
El-Sisi has also led an effort in the Middle East to reform and modernize Islam, promoting moderate Muslim leaders and clerics who reject terrorism.
Educated in the United States, el-Sisi reached out to those who would succeed Obama, seeking improved relations.
El-Sisi met with both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the United States’ presidential campaign. While Clinton was dismissive and critical of the U.S. ally, Trump boldly stated his support.
In a statement released by the campaign after the meeting, Trump officials said:
Mr. Trump expressed to President el-Sisi his strong support for Egypt’s war on terrorism, and how under a Trump Administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead.
Mr. Trump emphasized the strong partnership that the United States and Egypt have shared for so many years and how this relationship is vital to help promote peace and stability in the Middle East, broader region and the world. Mr. Trump also expressed his recognition of Egypt’s close relationship with Israel on countering terrorism. Mr. Trump highlighted how Egypt and the U.S. share a common enemy and the importance of working together in defeating radical Islamic terrorism, not only politically and militarily, but also addressing the ideology.
The meeting appears to have paid off. The new Trump administration is beginning the process of resuming joint military exercises with Egypt. El-Sisi’s strong anti-terror policies were also a major reason Egypt was not included on the list of Middle Eastern countries from which the Trump administration suspended foreign visitors.
The new military exercises will not only focus on eradicating the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood, but also ISIS, which has established a presence in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
“Trump’s presidency will breathe a new spirit into U.S.-Egyptian relations,” el-Sisi predicts.