Trump Praises Al-Sisi Despite Harsh Human Rights Record

Despite shameful human rights violations under al-Sisi regime, Trump calls meeting with Sisi in Biarritz ‘great’.

US President Donald Trump said on his Twitter account he had held a “great meeting” with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit held in France’s Biarritz.

Donald Trump also praised his Egyptian counterpart for doing “a fantastic job” in the country.

“He’s a very tough man, I will tell you that. But he’s also a good man, and he’s done a fantastic job in Egypt. Not easy,” said Trump.

During the meeting, Trump applauded the level of strategic coordination and consultation with Egypt, highlighting Egypt’s key role in the Middle East and its support for efforts to counter-terrorism and extremism as well as efforts to reinforce peace and stability in the region, according to an official Egyptian statement.

He confirmed the strategic Egyptian – US relations, saying that the US looks forward to further developing cooperation, noting Egypt’s success in implementing the economic reform program and advancing comprehensive development. He confirmed interest in increasing trade and investment between the two countries.

President Sisi, for his part, confirmed the strong and profound strategic relations between the two countries.

He lauded continued progress during the Trump administration and said that Egypt is keen to continue promoting cooperation frameworks across all fields and continuing coordination and consultation with the US administration on ways to reinforce peace and stability in the Middle East, in light of the crises that the region is facing.

Both Al-Sisi and Trump discussed regional and international developments, including the Palestinian case. President Sisi confirmed Egypt’s support for all sincere efforts that seek to find a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian case based on international references and resolutions so as to restore stability and open new horizons.

They also agreed on the importance of reaching political solutions to the crises in Libya and Syria. Sisi confirmed that backing the national institutions shall contribute to preserving the unity of countries that suffer from crises and ending the humanitarian plight of the people.

The meeting touched on the issue of counter-terrorism. President Trump expressed his country’s full support for Egypt’s efforts in this regard. He lauded Egypt’s efforts to reinforce the principles and values of tolerance and freedom of worship in the country.

Sisi confirmed the importance of concerted efforts by the international community to curb the threats of terrorism and to prevent terrorist organizations from receiving finances, arms or recruits.

It is worth to mention that nearly two dozen human rights organizations have called on French President Emmanuel Macron to speak out against ongoing human rights abuses in Egypt, as Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attended the G7 summit in France.

Macron invited Sisi to attend the international summit in the French town of Biarritz.

That invitation was “a striking choice” in the context of the ongoing crackdown on dissent in Egypt, said the rights groups, which included Human Rights Watch (HRW), Reporters Without Borders and The Freedom Initiative.

They urged Macron to press Sisi to “drop all charges and unconditionally release all arbitrarily detained human rights defenders and journalists, and drop abusive probation measures against them”.

“Political prisoners detained for peaceful activities should be immediately released, and those jailed after unfair trial procedures or without trial should be tried or re-tried in proceedings that meet Egypt’s international human rights obligations,” the groups said in a statement.

The rights groups urged Macron to use Sisi’s attendance at the G7 as a way to push further on his previous comments, and “to allow Egyptian rights defenders to document violations”.

“If these abuses are left unquestioned, the G7 summit will de facto legitimize al-Sisi’s utter disregard for Egypt’s human rights obligations,” they said.

Since Sisi came to power following a military coup in 2013, his government has overseen an unprecedented crackdown on civil society organizations, particularly human rights groups. 

HRW, which is currently banned in Egypt, has accused Sisi’s government of being involved in “systematic widespread enforced disappearances and torture that most likely amount to crimes against humanity”.

The rights group has estimated that around 60,000 political prisoners have been detained since Sisi took power following the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Morsi, who died in June after years in Egyptian jail.

Many of the prisoners have reported torture and other forms of abuse in detention.

The Egyptian government denies holding so many political prisoners.

In a sit-down interview with US television programme 60 Minutes in January, Sisi said, “there are no political prisoners in Egypt”.

The rights groups’ call on Monday comes ahead of a review of Egypt’s rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in the autumn.

Egypt was also set to host the Conference on Defining and Criminalising Torture in Legislation in the Arab Region next month in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the government’s human rights body, the National Council for Human Rights.

But the UN decided last week to postpone the event following an outcry from rights groups.