President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with Presidential Republican party candidate Donald Trump and Presidential Democratic party candidate Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the annual United Nations (UN) general assembly, currently held in New York.
The meetings with the Egyptian president came as part of Trump and Clinton’s meetings with world leaders before the US presidential elections that will be held in November. Both candidates tackled different issues with Al-Sisi during the meetings.
Al-Sisi’s meeting with Trump
It has become known that Al-Sisi is the Republican candidate’s favourite leader in the Middle East. They both share the same policy and prioritise combating terrorism over any other issue. In 2015, Republican politician Ted Cruz said that Al-Sisi is a “terror-fighting commander who should be befriended and emulated”. During Al-Sisi’s meeting with Trump, the main focus was on how to combat terrorism. Trump praised Al-Sisi’s efforts in combating terrorism and what Egypt has done over the past few years for the “betterment of the world”.
In a press statement released by Trump’s campaign, Trump said in the meeting that if he were fortunate to win the elections in November, he would work together with Egypt in combating terrorism. Additionally, the US will be an important ally to Egypt that the latter can depend on for days and years ahead.
Trump’s supporters have deemed his meetings with Al-Sisi and other leaders as a victory. The bilateral meeting was considered to be between two leaders who share the same vision and want to fight radical Islamists.
During the meeting, Trump backtracked from his campaign to create policy that would ban foreign Muslims from entering the US, showing more tolerance towards their presence. He said he had high regards for “peace-loving Muslims”.
The meeting didn’t touch upon any issues other than how the US will be Egypt’s loyal friend under Trump’s administration for they share a common enemy. Trump praised Al-Sisi’s close ties with Israel on countering terrorism as well.
Al-Sisi’s meeting with Clinton
Unlike Al-Sisi’s meeting with Trump, Clinton highlighted the deterioration of the human rights situation in Egypt. She called on Al-Sisi to release US citizen Aya Hegazy, who has been detained in Egypt for over two years on charges of inciting protests through a foundation that supports street children. Clinton also shed light on Egypt’s policy that harasses activists and human rights organisations. Besides also discussing the importance of enhancing bilateral ties with Egypt, Clinton said that it’s rather important for Egypt to cooperate with Israel in combating terrorism.
Clinton further added that the rule of law and respect for human rights is important for Egypt’s “future progress”. In December 2015, when Clinton was debating with former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, she called the Egyptian government “basically an army dictatorship”.
Unlike the Republican party, the Democratic party has shown a rather negative attitude towards the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, describing the 30 June uprising as a military coup.
Both candidates referred to Israel as an important party that Egypt should collaborate with in its counter-terrorism measures.
Several academics and scholars released a joint letter on Friday that criticised both Trump and Clinton for meeting Al-Sisi. They highlighted his intolerance to dissent and the severe deterioration of the human rights situation in Egypt, but Al-Sisi met Trump and Clinton separately on Monday anyway.