Sisi says don’t ‘jump to con­clu­sions’ on Trump

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

CAIRO: Egypt’s Pres­i­dent Ab­del-Fat­tah AlSisi has praised US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald J. Trump, say­ing that his in­flam­ma­tory state­ments from the cam­paign trail do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the ac­tions he will take as pres­i­dent.

Al-Sisi, in an in­ter­view with Por­tuguese news agency LUSA re­leased on Satur­day, said, “let’s not jump into con­clu­sions or worry” about fu­ture US ac­tions or poli­cies in the Mid­dle East. The army chief-turned­pres­i­dent was in­ter­viewed prior to his up­com­ing Nov. 21 visit to Por­tu­gal.

Al-Sisi was among the very first for­eign lead­ers to con­grat­u­late Trump’s on his pres­i­den­tial vic­tory. “We have to dis­tin­guish be­tween the rhetoric that takes place within pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns and the real and ac­tual ad­min­is­tra­tion of a coun­try af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion,” he said. “There will be a chance for more thor­ough read­ings.”

Al-Sisi’s re­marks echoed sen­ti­ments that have been cir­cu­lat­ing on lo­cal and regional media, with columnists spec­u­lat­ing that Trump cam­paign rhetoric - such as his call for a ban on Mus­lims en­ter­ing the US - will be wa­tered down.

Cer­tain bond

Trump and Al-Sisi have al­ready shown a cer­tain bond. Trump said there was “good chem­istry” when they met on the side­lines of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly in Septem­ber. Al-Sisi said Trump would “with­out a doubt” make a strong leader.

Al-Sisi, who was elected in 2014 af­ter lead­ing the mil­i­tary ouster of Is­lamist Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi, has painted him­self as a regional leader in the fight against Islamic mil­i­tancy - a stance that echoes Trump’s pri­or­i­ties.

The prospect of warmer re­la­tions with Trump comes af­ter years of rel­a­tive chill be­tween Al-Sisi and out­go­ing US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Af­ter the ouster of Morsi and the sub­se­quent lethal crack­down on Is­lamist sup­port­ers, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion voiced crit­i­cism and briefly sus­pended part of the Egypt’s ro­bust Amer­i­can aid pack­age.

Egypt’s pro-gov­ern­ment media have of­ten railed against Obama, ac­cus­ing the US of sup­port­ing the Mus­lim Brother­hood and other dis­si­dent groups. Many of those pro-gov­ern­ment media out­lets are now cheer­ing Trump’s vic­tory.

Ob­servers be­lieve that Trump is less likely to take Egypt to task over hu­man rights. In­stead, he could of­fer Al-Sisi in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal sup­port as the Egyp­tian leader bat­tles Islamic State group-linked mil­i­tants in the Si­nai penin­sula and in neigh­bor­ing Libya.

“I be­lieve that Pres­i­dent Trump will be vig­or­ously en­gaged with the is­sues in the re­gion,” Al-Sisi said. “As a mat­ter of fact, Trump has shown deep and great un­der­stand­ing of what is tak­ing place in the re­gion as a whole and Egypt in par­tic­u­lar. I am look­ing for­ward and ex­pect­ing more sup­port and re­in­force­ment of our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.”—AP

CAIRO: In this Sept. 20, 2014 file photo, Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­del-Fat­tah Al-Sisi lis­tens dur­ing an in­ter­view with The Associated Press at the pres­i­den­tial palace. —AP

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