Trump and Sisi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – An Egyptian president will visit the White House for the first time in seven years on Monday when Abdel Fattah al-Sisi sits down with US President Donald Trump. The meeting is expected to focus on shared security concerns in the region.
Sisi and Trump have reportedly struck up a rapport in phone calls preceding Monday’s visit, including in exchanges over UN Security Council action on Israel, terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula and US foreign assistance to the Egyptian state.
The Trump administration seeks to “reboot” America’s relationship with Egypt after former US President Barack Obama criticized Sisi for his path to power there, and his subsequent crackdown of members of the former Muslim Brotherhood government.
Trump and congressional Republicans appear ready to pivot from that policy as they consider officially designating the group as a terrorist organization.
Trump, Egypt's Sisi discuss fighting terrorism
Generally speaking, the Trump administration has proposed severe cuts in foreign aid across the board. Only Israel was given explicit assurances in the president’s proposed budget that its foreign aid would continue at Obama-era levels.
But Sisi is expected to request an increase to the $1.3 billion in US foreign military financing it receives each year in order to more effectively combat terrorist groups in Sinai.
Israel’s defense forces are working closely with Egypt’s military in the Sinai. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s affection for and confidence in Sisi may in turn provide comfort to Trump’s team, which is focused on maintaining stability in the region, suppressing terrorist groups and fostering wider Israeli-Arab cooperation, on which Egypt plays a critical role.
Sisi has “called for reform and moderation of Islamic discourse, initiated courageous and historic economic reforms, and sought to reestablish Egypt’s regional leadership role. He has also led Egypt’s campaign to defeat a long-running terrorist threat in the Sinai,” one White House official told journalists this week. “The United States wants to support President Sisi’s efforts in all of these areas.
“Our relationship has historically been driven by security,” he added, “and that will remain a key component of the engagement with Egypt.”