(Washington, D.C.) — President Trump’s efforts to rebuild deeply strained relations with America’s Sunni Arab Muslim allies continue full speed ahead this week.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has just departed Cairo and is currently headed for Washington. On Monday, April 3rd, he will meet with Trump.
- This will be the Egyptian leader’s first time to the White House.
- President Obama never invited him but rather treated him nearly as persona non grata during his administration, denouncing el-Sisi for removing the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist regime from power in the summer of 2013 and suspending aid and military sales to Egypt for a time.
- This will actually be el-Sisi’s second meeting with Mr. Trump.
- Their first meeting was on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York last September during the presidential campaign. At the time, el-Sisi also met with Hillary Clinton.
- The Egyptian president was also the first leader to call Mr. Trump the day after the election last November to congratulate Trump on his victory.
- The two leaders spoke again on January 23rd.
- President el-Sisi — who is battling radical Islamic terrorism throughout Egypt, in the Sinai desert, and along the western border with an imploding Libya — urgently wants to rebuild ties with Washington and be seen as a trustworthy ally in the battle against the radicals.
- The Egyptian leader is deeply concerned about the threat that a nuclear Iran and a genocidal Islamic State poses to the region, and has signaled his readiness to help the U.S. work against both threats.
- Given that Egypt is also facing severe and systemic economic troubles, el-Sisi also hopes to persuade Trump not to cut the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid to his country at a time when Trump has signaled he is planning to cut foreign aid.
- At the same time, el-Sisi — who has a remarkably resilient peace treaty with Israel — has repeatedly shown a desire to help broker a comprehensive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. Can such an agreement really be achieved? That’s a good question. But el-Sisi has built a very strong and warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. He is also rebuilding a strained relationship with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Last year, he participated in a secret summit in Aqaba, Jordan, aimed at trying to bring about a peace deal. It will be interesting to see if he brings fresh ideas and suggestions — or even a new peace proposal — to his White House meeting.
- I’m encouraged the President Trump has reached out to el-Sisi. As I wrote in a Jerusalem Post column in February, “it’s time to rebuild ties with Egypt” and I laid out six reasons why the U.S. and the West should work closely with President el-Sisi, and specifically why Trump should invite el-Sisi to meet with him in Washington. Namely, “he’s making progress, and he needs help.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah II arrives here in Washington a few days later. His Majesty will meet President Trump at the White House on April 5th.
- This will also be the King’s second meeting with Mr. Trump.
- Their first meeting was on the sidelines of the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in February, as I reported on this blog.
- Still, this will be the King’s first official and formal White House meeting with President Trump and this is a very positive development.
- As I wrote in the Jerusalem Post last year, after Lynn and I spent five days in Jordan meeting with the King and his top military generals, “King Abdullah II is, without question, the West’s most faithful Sunni Arab ally. But as he engages in a hot war against a genocidal enemy he needs far more help from the US and the international community – and he needs it now. Let’s give him what he needs, before it’s too late.”
- The King is also concerned that President Trump is cutting foreign aid and that such cuts could negatively affect Jordan. Expect him to make the case to Trump how vital Jordan is in combatting ISIS and caring for more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees, and that Jordan is a good value for the dollar.
- The King is also concerned about Iranian aggression and Persian nationalist ambitions in the region, so I suspect this will be a topic of conversation.
- But the King is also deeply involved in trying to help the Palestinians and Israelis make peace, and I think this will be one of his top priority issues.
- Last week, the King hosted the Arab League Summit in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba. There, the Arab leaders reaffirmed their support for what’s known as the “Arab Peace Initiative” and are urging Mr. Trump to make the Israeli-Palestinian peace process a very high priority.
- Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s chief international negotiator, attended the Summit last week and held private meetings with all of the key players. Greenblatt has been making the rounds in the region in recent weeks meeting with Israeli and Arab leaders of all kinds and persuasions, listening to their thoughts on how to bring the two sides together.
- Most analysts remain skeptical that the conditions are ripe for Israel and the Palestinians to find much common ground, much less strike an historic final peace treaty. But there’s lots of evidence that President Trump is increasingly invested in the process and seems to believe he can cut such a deal.
These meetings with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan come on the heels of recent Trump meetings with the Prime Minister of Iraq and the Saudi Crown Prince.
It’s worth noting that later this month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with President Trump.
- Mr. Abbas is currently serving the 13th year of his four year term.
- He refuses to call new elections.
- Thus far, he has resisted direct negotiations with Netanyahu, as well.
- But he has stated publicly he is hopeful that Trump is serious about making peace.
I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m glad President el-Sisi and King Abdullah are on their way here, and I’m praying for good and productive meetings at the White House.
The Scriptures command us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). In Matthew chapter five, Jesus also teaches us that “blessed are the peacemakers.” In a region of such darkness and violence, let’s be faithful in prayer and committed to seeking peace and stability for everyone in the epicenter.
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- Mr. President, it’s time to deliver a major address to define “radical Islamic terrorism” — my latest Fox News column
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