Why the Egyptians are Praying for Trump’s Victory?
U.S. President Trump and Egypt President El-Sisi
American domestic politics are not of interest for the average Egyptian citizen. But, the U.S. presidential election is, usually, a big event for Egyptians of all backgrounds and political affiliations. Most Egyptians does not only know the name of the American president, but they also know his family members, his political biases, and even his personality traits. Talk to a taxi driver or stop at a local coffee shop, in Cairo or Alexandria, and listen to ordinary Egyptians debating about who deserves to be the next American president and who should not win the elections in November, with as much enthusiasm as if they are going to the voting ballots next morning.
It is not a secret that an American president and the foreign policy he chooses for his administration plays an unneglectable role in shaping the domestic policies of close allies, especially in countries like Egypt, due to its long history of political, economic, and military interdependent relations with the United States. Whatever happens behind the closed doors in the White House, in Washington, D.C., has its indirect impact on the quality of the life of most citizens, in Egypt.
Under the current U.S. President Trump, the relationship between the United States and Egypt marked a much-needed revival, after almost eight years of a tug of war between the two countries, under the administration of former President Obama. This was an extremely turbulent period in Egypt and the Arab world, not only because of the dire consequences of the stormy waves of the Arab Spring, but also because of the unexpected foreign policy pressures that the Obama administration laid on Egypt and its fellows in Arab Gulf states.
At one point, the Obama Administration supported the will of the young liberal activists and their quest for social and political change in their countries. Then later, to the shock of many, including those same young liberal activists, the Obama Administration showed open support to political Islamists, who seized power, due to the naivety of the revolutionists, in key Arab Spring countries, such as Egypt and Tunisia. When the Egyptian people rebelled against the one-year-old Muslim Brotherhood regime, in June 2013, the Obama Administration refused to recognize the will of the people and adopted a very hostile stance towards the Egyptian interim government, at that time.
In an unprecedented move, in 2016, the US State Department, under Obama, upheld due US$ 1.2 Billion in economic and military aid to Egypt, justifying the freeze by “human rights concerns.” This freeze of the US economic and military aid, due to Egypt by the force of the Camp David Accord, had a negative effect on the stumbling Egyptian economy, at that time, and doubled the economic sufferings of the Egyptian people. Only in 2018, after President Trump was elected and strong U.S. relations with Egypt were restored, the frozen amount was released.
For many Egyptians, it does not matter whether the American president comes from the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. Egyptians have had hard times and good times with both Republicans and Democrats, in the past. What only matter is how much understanding and friendliness an American president is willing to show towards Egypt. That is particularly true in terms with his willingness to productively collaborate with the Egyptian regime and respecting the political choices and preferences of the Egyptian people. The friendly and understanding foreign policy approach, that the current President Trump is adopting towards Egypt and Arab Gulf states, helped Egypt and US relations to flourish on many levels. In 2018, the United States goods trade surplus with Egypt was $2.6 billion, with a %9.3 increase from 2017; the United States goods exports to Egypt totaled $5.1 billion, with an increase of %26.7 from 2017.
That does not mean that Egypt gave up on its quest for democratization and political reform, because of lack of pressure from the Trump Administration. On the contrary, during the past four years, Egypt got a chance to breathe and reset its own priorities based on its own circumstances and pace. During this period, Egypt rebuilt its constitution, state institutions, and a government body of highly skilled technocrats. In addition, El-Sisi regime managed to accomplish unprecedented strides on complicated agendas; like supporting religious freedom and political empowerment of formerly marginalized groups, such as Coptic Christian citizens, women, and youth. Needless to mention, the huge tangible accomplishments on improving living conditions, enhancing social and economic rights, and implementing governmental programs for the protection of the poor.
Right now, the general mood in Egypt is favoring the current American President Trump to his competitor, former Vice-President, Biden. For most Egyptians, in their minds, Biden is a supporter to political Islamists and is surely linked to the Obama era of unstable relationship between Egypt and the US. I was not surprised when I watched my mother, a typical Muslim Egyptian lady, praying for speed recovery and electoral victory for President Trump. Yet, it still remains the mission of the American people, and only the American people, to decide on who should win the presidential elections in November.