Donald Trump’s election may have been met with incredulity and concern by some US allies, but the leader of at least one Middle Eastern nation is thrilled.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi may have been the first foreign leader to call and congratulate the new US President on the Wednesday after the election. Sisi was effusive in his congratulations, echoing his September comments that Trump would be a “strong leader.” Trump as well has had kind words for Sisi in the past, calling him a “fantastic guy.”
The Trump-Sisi connection is likely to rest on more than mutual admiration. As pointed out in Al-Monitor, “the two men also share similar views on a number of issues.”
The major areas of agreement include an openness to Russia, a refusal to back Syrian Rebels and deep skepticism of the Iran nuclear deal. Trump has also shown little desire to push human rights concerns with regards to the Egypt’s mass incarceration of Muslim Brotherhood members and Arab Spring protesters.
All of this may bring Egypt back to the negotiating table on a host of Middle Eastern issues given its potential for a leadership role in the region and as a link between the US and Russia.
However, many Egyptians see less room for optimism.
Recent protests by Egypt’s”Movement of the Poor” have recalled the anger directed against President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but with little success. Instead, Sisi has pursued massive crackdowns, a policy likely to continue in light of Trump’s vocal criticism of US support for Mubarak’s ouster.
The main emotion felt by Egyptians however, might simply be a rueful cynicism. Proof of that emotion, and a little schadenfreude, can be seen in the picture above of former Egyptian spy chief and Vice President, Omar Suleiman. In 2011, Suleiman claimed the Egyptians were not ready for democracy. Now, many in Egypt believe that the tables have turned.