Trump, Al-Sisi and the War on “Terrorism”

On the National Mall in Washington DC, Trump has been inaugurated after being sworn as the 45th President of America.

After inauguration, the White House announced an immediate policy to unite civilized world “to defeat and destroy ‘terrorism’, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth”.

According to a statement posted on the White House website moments after his inauguration, Trump administration said it would make defeating “radical Islamic terror groups” its top foreign policy goal.

In the statement titled, “America First Foreign Policy”, the Trump administration said, “Defeating ISIS and other radical Islamic terror groups will be our highest priority.”

The new American administration said that in order to “defeat and destroy” ISIS and similar groups, we “will pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations when necessary”, work to cut off funding for armed groups, expand intelligence sharing, and use “cyber-warfare” to disrupt propaganda and recruitment efforts.

Trump’s speech and the statement echoed his campaign criticism of Obama and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terror” to describe Islamic State and other hard-line jihadist groups.

Obama argued that using the term would conflate “murderers” with “the billion Muslims that exist around the world, including in this country, who are peaceful.” Clinton also said that using the phrase would play into the hands of militants who want to portray the United States as at war with Islam.

Moreover, Trump’s statement  vowed to “rebuild” the American military, including enlarging the Navy and the Air Force which was a frequent theme during Trump’s campaign.

In the same context, US Defense Minster in Trump Administration James Mattis has called in his first statement that,”No country can guarantee its security without its friends and we will cooperate with the Department of State to enhance the relations with our alliances.”

Trump, Al-Sisi, and the Military  

“The American Sisi”, some have viewed Trump’s inauguration as the President of the United States of America as similar to al-Sisi of Egypt- the former Defense Minister who led a military coup in 2013 against Egypt’s first democratic President Mohamed Morsi.

Mona Eltahawy, a contributing opinion writer, commented in an article on New York Times  on Trump’s inauguration, saying that “He sounds just like one of our despots,” as a friend told her after he watched Donald J. Trump speak at his inauguration.

“It was an address worthy of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, our general turned president,” she said.

She added, “It was stunning to watch Mr. Trump try to mold the United States in the shape of Egypt, where the military has ruled us, in one form or another, for over six decades.”

“No wonder Mr. Trump called Mr. Sisi “a fantastic guy” when they met in New York last year. No wonder Mr. Sisi was the first foreign leader to call Mr. Trump to congratulate him on his election victory,”she added.

Moreover, Mona Eltahawy also tracked Trump’s choices in his new administration and considered it as sign of expanding the role of military in the new US administration.

Eltahawy said that in Egypt, “we’d like to reduce the military’s influence in Egyptian politics. In America, Mr. Trump wants to increase it.”

As a result, she pointed that,” No wonder the first bill that Mr. Trump signed after his inauguration was a waiver to allow a former general, James N. Mattis, to become defense secretary without the elapse of seven years required by law before ex-service members can run the Pentagon.”

It is worth to mention that James Mattis is known as “Mad Dog” Mattis for his reputation as a tough-fighting military commander.

Mattis has shown a callous disregard for human life, particularly civilians as evidenced in his behavior in leading marines in Iraq and about enjoying fighting in Afghanistan because “it’s fun to shoot some people. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot,” and myriad other problems.

In addition, “No wonder Mr. Trump has nominated more generals to his cabinet than any predecessor,” she said.

Under Trump Administration,  Alliance with Al-Sisi is likely

In fact, there were signs that infer that US and Egypt would get closer under the new US administration.

First, Al-Sisi was one of a few world leaders Trump requested to meet when he was a candidate on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.

Trump also expressed to al-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, according to Politico.

Trump also said that if elected president, he will work with Sisi to fight terrorism, describing him in a speech as someone who recognizes that “this ideology of death must be extinguished.”

After the meeting, Trump’s team released an account of his meeting with Sisi that was striking in how much praise the Republican heaped on Egypt.

On the other side, when al-Sisi was asked directly about his opinion on the US elections – during an interview with the CNN after meeting with Trump – and the possibility that Trump would make a strong leader, al-Sisi replied by saying “no doubt”.

Moreover, al-Sisi was among the first World Leader to congratulate Trump to congratulate him on his victory.

In the same context, Sameh Shoukry was the first Arab official to meet US elect official in the new administration which infers how warm will be the relation between both countries.

According to many observers it seems that Donald Trump administration will take steps in favor of the al-Sisi regime as” the both leaders have many views in common.”

It is known that Trump opposes the attempts of change in the region known as “The Arab Spring”, tends to support stability, and is against any radical changes in the region.

In addition, Trump views war on terrorism as a top priority for US foreign policy.

Brookings institution has stated in an article “Trump’s Misdiagnosis of the Jihadists Threats” that Trump policy in the Middle East will differ from former US presidents who had a different diagnosis and thus different treatment.

” Presidents Bush and Obama believed that the lack of good governance and political freedom were the root cause of jihadism, not religion. As a result, Bush and Obama pushed for political reform in the Arab world,”said Brookings.

However, “Trump and his closest national security advisers want unconditional support for Muslim autocrats who have vowed to reform Islam to stop the violence. At the top of the list are President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Egypt and King Abdullah in Jordan, who have both said religious reform is a necessary prelude to defeating jihadism,” according to Brooking.

In addition, Carnegie Middles East Center mentioned that Trump presidency could signal a “significant shift in American–Egyptian relations,” which have cooled since the 2013 coup.

For example, the United States partially suspended military aid after the military coup in 2013, later it was restored in March 2015, citing a need to combat the Islamic State in Sinai.

According to Carnegie, “However, even though the United States restored aid, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi still has not been invited to the White House, a public snub to a close American ally. Trump, however, seems to have another policy regarding Egypt.”

In September 2016, when Trump met al-Sisi in New York, Trump praised Sisi’s efforts in his war on terror and stated that, if he were elected, the United States would be a friend to Egypt, not simply an ally.

In addition, this was followed by a promise to invite Sisi on an official state visit. In response, al-Sisi was quick to return the praise, stating that” Trump would be a strong president, one of the key points that Trump was using in his electoral platform.”

Carnegie added that this warming of relations can have a number of implications in terms of policy. “First, Trump’s brand of right-wing populism is likely to strengthen Sisi’s position internationally and domestically, since it is likely to create support for his continued repression of the Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition under the rubric of the War on Terror.’

In addition, various leaders in the GOP (the Republican party is usually referred to as the Grand Old Party GOP)-including Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz- have praised al-Sisi “signaling the affinity between the Egyptian regime and Republican Party at a time when repression was rampant in Egypt. “

Moreover, the pressure from Washington to reduce levels of repression and allow civil society to operate, which Clinton was expected was to exert, is not expected to be one of Trump’s priority.