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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump listen as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a bilateral meeting, Washington, Apr. 3, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Is Tillerson Using Egypt to Finally Chart His Own Path at the State Department?

Friday, Sept. 1, 2017

Since taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump has run an erratic foreign policy, failing to deliver a clear and consistent message to allies and enemies alike. So, when the State Department decided to cut and withhold a combined $295 million in economic and military aid to Egypt last week, despite exceedingly warm relations between Trump and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, many were once again left scratching their heads. For nearly a year, Trump has been an ardent supporter of the regime in Cairo, ending an era of rough-and-tumble relations between Egypt and the Obama administration.

Sisi, for his part, was one of Trump’s earliest foreign enthusiasts, meeting him in New York last September, when candidate Trump hailed the general-turned-autocrat as a “fantastic guy.” “Under a Trump administration,” he said, “the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead.” Sisi was also the first foreign leader to offer a congratulatory phone call following Trump’s victory in November, and the two met again in the Oval Office in April. ...

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