The victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential elections on Wednesday sparked new hopes for Egypt, as the presidency positively received the news.
At the same time, it raises the question on how the new Trump administration will affect the issue of terrorism and the Middle East as a whole, where politicians differ on whether Trump’s stances towards Muslims and Islamists will bring positive or negative results.
On one hand, Nader El-Sharkawy, secretary general of the Free Egyptians Party (FEP), sees the presidency of Trump as a better alternative for Egypt, given that the new American president had previously expressed support for his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Moreover, El-Sharkawy highlighted Trump’s rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group outlawed by Egyptian authorities. According to El-Sharkawy, “unlike the polls predictions, Trump was able to attract more voters to the right wing by playing on the fear of terrorism.”
Commenting on Trump’s controversial statements on Arabs and Muslims, El-Sharkawy argued that there is a difference between Trump, the candidate who was acting on his personal volition, and Trump, the US president bound by the rule of institutions, constitution, and laws.
“Now the entire congress will be controlled by the Republicans, which I find more realistic when dealing with the Middle East and approaching terrorism. There’s going to be a boycott of relations with Iran, maybe a softer approach to the Syrian crisis, but we will have to wait and see how the strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia will develop,” El-Sharkawy said in comments to Daily News Egypt on Wednesday.
El-Sharkawy had followed polls expecting the victory of rival candidate Hillary Clinton, which according to him failed to properly assess the presidential race by following traditional methods of data collection which did not take the general mood of Americans into consideration.
“Clinton represented ruthless pragmatism, while Trump played on exposing corrupt Washington, and gaining more voters’ support,” he argued.
On the other hand, Farid Zahran, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) was much more sceptical of Trump’s intentions towards the Middle East.
“Trump is known for his anti-Islamic and anti-Arab stance, even if at some point he retracted some of his outrageous comments for calculations related to the electoral process,” Zahran told Daily News Egypt on Wednesday.
To Zahran, Trump’s victory will reinforce worldwide racism and polarisation, although he said he hoped that US institutions will be able to control some of Trump’s “wildness”.
“It would be a mistake to celebrate Trump’s hostility towards Islamist extremism, even if he helps a particular force or country in the Middle East in countering terrorism, because he does not differentiate between Islamist extremism and Muslims or Arabs in general,” Zahran reasoned.
Referring to the George W. Bush administration, Zahran stated that US policies led to the division of Iraq. “The world is involved in wars related to ethnicity and sectarianism and that is only going to get worse, unless efforts are made on an international level by democratic political forces and humanitarian groups,” he said.
To Zahran, the new Trump administration will have no radical changes in the existing Republicans’ beliefs but that on the long-run, such policies will negatively affect the Middle East.
Meanwhile, member of parliament Nadia Henry of the 25-30 Alliance did not express a supporting or opposing stance to Trump’s victory, but rather looked at the circumstances behind the election outcome and how this will translate into policies.
“Perhaps, his victory is another negative result of the Barack Obama administration? But as Egyptians, we should not be biased,” Henry commented in a Wednesday statement to Daily News Egypt.
“What matters are the interests of and harmony between Egyptian and US presidents, especially in issues like fighting terrorism in the region, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” she stated.
According to her, Trump, a businessman, is direct and clearly expresses what he really feels, unlike Clinton who has been using her political intelligence in a way that people got fed up with.
Henry raised several questions, including how Trump’s limited political background and business expertise will affect his rule and policies. Will the US realise that it is not the world’s superpower and pay attention to other powerful nations?