Egypt: El-Sisi visit Trump, request Muslim Brotherhood declared a terrorist group

Making his first official visit to Washington since taking office in 2014, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's meeting this week with U.S. President Donald Trump would be a significant step in the worldwide rehabilitation of the general-turned-politician who was kept out of the Obama White House. Trump's meeting with el-Sisi is the first meeting of an Egyptian head of state with the USA president since 2009.

The Obama administration temporarily halted military aid to Egypt shortly after Sisi led the overthrow of democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

He was the first global leader to congratulate Donald Trump, then newly elected President of the United States upon his victory. "(Sisi) took control of Egypt, and he really took control of it".

White House officials said Trump would approach the topic of human rights in a "private, more discreet way".

Both leaders are looking to use the first visit by an Egyptian leader to the White House in seven years to make a point.

Sisi left Cairo on Saturday for Washington where he is set to meet with Trump on Monday - the event will mark Sisi's first state visit to the USA since becoming president in 2014.

Ahead of the meeting, the White House said that "Egypt is one of the traditional pillars of stability in the Middle East and has been a reliable USA partner for decades".

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 USA policy.

Last month, President Trump spoke on the phone for the first time with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, with the president inviting Abbas to Washington.

President Donald Trump quickly reversed that policy and just before el-Sissi's arrival Monday morning, the administration let it be known it will no longer focus on human rights issues in Egypt and elsewhere as had Obama and George W. Bush before him.

The report said that in order to bring the Palestinians to the table, Israel will have to declare a settlement freeze, and release the last batch of convicted terrorist prisoners not released during the failed 2015 talks brokered by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Egypt is in the middle of a deep economic crisis; Sisi army is engaged in a tough fight in the Sinai against militants led by a local affiliate of the Daesh militant group and his security forces are conducting a long-term crackdown on dissent, while watching for any signs of public unrest fueled by the soaring cost of living.

But their personal rapport was on display in the Oval Office for the first time, where Trump offered glowing praise of Sisi for his fight against a growing scourge of terrorism. The Trump administration has proposed large cuts to foreign aid but it remains to be seen whether this will result in any cuts to Egyptian aid. "What President (Barack) Obama and President (George W.) Bush found out, and I think President Trump will find out, is that what's going on inside these countries in the Middle East affects our security and the security of our allies, especially in Europe and Israel".

"I would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries and I hope so", Trump said. The White House will issue a full proposal in May.

The new Republican administration is also considering whether to designate Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group as a terror organization.

  • Jacqueline Ellis