Sep 13, 2019

Report: Trump asked for "my favorite dictator"

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Searching a room for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at last month's G7 summit in France, the WSJ reports, President Trump called out: “Where’s my favorite dictator?”

Why it matters: Sisi really is a dictator, and he really is closely allied with the Trump administration. Trump is untroubled by the idea of partnering with authoritarians, but his remark was "met by a stunned silence" according to the WSJ, which notes it's unclear if Sisi was in the room to hear it. When the two leaders met moments later, Trump praised Sisi as a "very tough man" who had "done a fantastic job."

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"Sisi out": Corruption allegations drive protestors to streets of Egypt

Protesters shout slogans during a rare anti-government protest in downtown Cairo. Photo: Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday and Saturday to demonstrate against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who has been accused of corruption and lavish spending while the rest of the country suffers under his economic austerity policies, the BBC reports.

Why it matters: Protests have been rare in Egypt since Sisi — condemned by many as a brutal authoritarian who has jailed thousands of his political opponents — first took power in a military coup in 2014. Hundreds of protestors on Friday filled Tahrir Square, a key site in the 2011 Egyptian uprising that led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. On Saturday, about 200 people chanting that Sisi is "the enemy of god" demonstrated in Suez, leading to dozens of arrests, per the BBC.

Go deeperArrowSep 22, 2019

Anti-corruption protests roiling Egypt add to regional insecurity

Anti-government protesters in Cairo. Photo: Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Chaotic protests across Egypt this weekend — prompted by videos exposing corruption in President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's military-backed government — underscore the population's weariness with economic hardship due in part to government austerity measures.

Why it matters: While Sisi markets Egypt as an island of stability in a turbulent region, popular dissatisfaction with his regime threatens that image. Whether the protests escalate or fizzle, the country remains a potential powder keg in a highly strategic location: straddling the Suez Canal, flanked by Israel and Libya, and across the Mediterranean from Europe.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

Turkish President Erdoğan accepts Trump invitation to visit White House

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accepted an invitation from President Trump to visit the White House next month, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: Erdoğan accepted the invitation during a call with Trump in which the Turkish president expressed dissatisfaction over the U.S military's apparent failure to implement a safe zone agreement in northeast Syria. Erdogan wants the safe zone to be established to eliminate threats from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which is supported by the U.S. but considered a terrorist organization by Turkey.

Go deeperArrowOct 6, 2019