Trump met his favorite Middle East strongman

Although Donald Trump doesn’t have too many nice things to say about people in the Middle East, he has spent the past year and a half lionizing one man in particular: Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.

 

The Egyptian leader and former army officer came to power in a military coup in 2013 and has since set about consolidating his grip through a ruthless campaign of repression, censorship, arrests and disappearances. Sissi also is believed to have presided over the massacre of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of suspected Islamists who supported the ousted democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi.

 

Nevertheless, for Trump as well as other senior Republican politicians, Sissi has become an exemplar of a solid ally, a soldier who is tough on terrorism and vehemently opposed to political Islam. In August, Trump hailed Sissi as someone who recognizes “this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”

On Monday evening, Trump met the Egyptian president in New York on the sidelines of the sessions at the U.N. General Assembly. It was his second face-to-face encounter as presidential nominee with a foreign leader — the first occurred when he jetted to Mexico City to meet President Enrique Peña Nieto, a publicity stunt that seems to have backfired on the Mexican president.

 

Sissi also sat down with Trump’s rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton. According to an aide, the Democratic candidate and former secretary of state “emphasized the importance of respect for rule of law and human rights.”

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