Much like his persona, President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy is capricious, hostile, and chauvinistic. During a rally in Iowa in November 2015, for example, Trump claimed his strategy for defeating ISIS included “bomb[ing] the shit out of them” and their oilfields, before sending in Exxon to capitalize on what remains.
The following month, in December 2015, Trump called for a “complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration into the United States—a policy which was conspicuously and only temporarily removed from his campaign’s website on Tuesday. Perhaps his most audacious plan is to build a wall on the U.S.—Mexico border, and have Mexico pay for it.
These unhinged remarks have troubled many around the world, who are understandably worried about Trump’s capacity for fascism. One person who is not troubled, however, is Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who in the aftermath of the election was the first foreign head of state to call the president-elect and congratulate him on his victory.
According to Middle East Eye, Sisi expressed an intention to strengthen Egypt’s relationship with the United States and “promote peace and stability and development in the Middle East region, especially in the face of the huge challenges that it faces.”
Compare this with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who conditioned her support for Trump “on the basis of [democratic] values” and his active dedication to them, according to The New York Times.
In September 2015, Trump met with Sisi in New York and promised a “loyal friendship” between both nations if he became president. Sisi is now collecting on that promise.
Trump and Sisi are in many ways similar. They are both right-wing populists who fueled their rise to power by promising to restore “former glory” to their countries, and concocting enemy-Others. In Trump’s case, immigrants—whether Muslim or Mexican—became the scapegoats, while Sisi indicted the Muslim Brotherhood. Both men blamed these groups for economic stagnancy, terrorism, and general social and political disorder.
Sisi and Trump appear to have similar desires for the Middle East region, as well—especially Syria. Both leaders believe ISIS is a greater threat than President Bashar Al-Assad, and have shown a willingness to preserve the Syrian regime for fear of the alternatives.
For these reasons, among others, Sisi will likely find in Trump a political confidante willing to provide diplomatic and economic cover for his authoritarianism—particularly against Islamists like the Brotherhood. In fact, many of Egypt’s parliamentarians have acknowledged this reality, enthusiastically proclaiming that Trump’s election is a monumental setback for the country’s Islamists, according to Ahram Online.
Whether in Egypt, Syria, or the United States, the future certainly seems bleak for Muslims and other minorities.