Trump tells Sisi US, Egypt will fight Islamic militants together

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has set off for Washington to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in a gathering of leaders who have expressed mutual admiration for each other.

El-Sisi praised Trump's "unique personality" and stressed Egypt's support of the USA in the fight against terrorism, to which Trump said, "we will do that together". "I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President el-Sisi", Trump said.

The bilateral relationship was strained when former President Barack Obama criticized Sisi for cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest Islamist group.

With Trump calling Sisi a "fantastic man" after meeting him in September previous year, activists are anxious that human rights abuses in Egypt will be overlooked with a new leadership in the White House seeking to strengthen ties with the country.

After initially cutting off certain arms sales to the country as punishment for Sisi's crackdowns, Obama relented and approved the sale of fighter jets, tanks and missiles to Egypt.

There had also been calls for Egypt to desist from the mass trials, widespread jailing of opponents and crackdown on civil liberties that swept across Egypt under Sisi.

Monday's meeting offered some insight into how the Trump White House plans to address the issue of human rights.

The Egypt's ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was on the black list for Obama administration, the brutal dictator was never invited by then-times White House because of his poor reputation.

He also wants to "build on the strong connection" established with Mr Sisi when they met in NY in September during the United States election campaign.

The Egyptian President has begun a necessary economic reform plan that would strengthen the Egyptian economy if it is fully executed, he said.

While Trump noted the United States and Egypt "have a few things" they do not agree on, he made no public airing of USA concerns about human rights in Egypt.

Tom Malinowski, an assistant secretary of state in charge of human rights issues in the Obama administration, argued that American aid to Egypt over the years had failed to win support for U.S. policy. Although, President Trump has referred to al-Sisi as "a fantastic guy", Human Rights groups disagree.

Making his first official visit to Washington, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's meeting this week with U.S. President Donald Trump would be a significant step in the global rehabilitation of the general-turned-politician who was kept out of the Obama White House.

The US administration official said Washington wants to "fully support" Egypt. "In addition, Trump probably believes that Egypt can be a stronger partner to the U.S in the region".

The organization also welcomes the bipartisan Egypt resolution to be introduced Monday in the Senate that offers continuing USA support to Egypt in its efforts "to confront legitimate threats", while also calling on Egypt's leaders to "take steps towards meaningful political and human rights reforms".

Many arrests are arbitrary and detainees are accused without firm evidence of membership of the brotherhood, which Sisi has declared to be a terrorist organisation.

"We'll discuss with Egypt whether cash-flow financing is something they need or not, but it is also something that would be a process of our internal budget discussions that are ongoing", the official said.

A major reason why the new United States administration seems willing to take on that role, Hendawy said, is that Trump needs a regional ally as he pushes on with his "anti-terror" agenda.

El-Sisi used his White House visit to tout counter-terrorism above all else.

"The weakness of the Egyptian economy and the continuing predicament over terrorism in Sinai don't leave in Egypt's hands many important cards", wrote Mohamed el-Menshawy, a USA -based analyst. El-Sissi and Trump are likely to "see eye-to-eye that there's no political Islam that's moderate or not moderate, and this will come down on the heads of the Brotherhood", Akl said.


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