When Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Monday, the world heard a striking shift in tone in the relationship between the United States and one of its closest Middle East allies.
President Barack Obama had kept el-Sisi at arms’ length, concerned about his human rights record and his authoritarian governing style. Trump, on the other hand, could not have been more deliberate in his embrace. “I just want to let everybody know in case there’s any doubt,” he declared, “that we are very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.”
With that, Trump confirmed that under his administration, he will spend no time chastising Middle Eastern and perhaps any other governments over issues of democracy or human rights. Addressing el-Sisi, he concluded, “You have a great friend and ally in the United States and me.”