Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi told Fox News’ Bret Baier in an exclusive interview Wednesday that President Trump has a “true understanding” of the realities in the Middle East when it comes to terrorism, drawing an apparent contrast with the policies of the Obama administration.
"In fact many things over the last four years occurred and caused many, many problems," El-Sisi said. "That's a fact. The region is paying a very heavy price for that."
El-Sisi also described Trump as a "unique personality" and said he had "every confidence of unprecedented success" for the American president.
"There is a true understanding of realities in the region," El-Sisi said, when asked about changes under the new administration. "And there is seriousness and responsible actions in facing extremism and terrorism in the region. And that's a wonderful thing indeed.
"There is nothing better than to counter evil," he said.
El-Sisi, who earlier this week met with President Trump at the White House, said the world needs to “speak with one face as we confront terrorism” and questioned Russia’s ties to the atrocities in Syria.
“Russia has interests in Syria and the region,” he said. “And I think they are defending their interests.”
El-Sisi’s warm White House reception was in stark contrast to the frosty relationship he had with former President Barack Obama.
Obama had repeatedly called out el-Sisi during his tenure over human rights violations and never invited him to the White House. Obama briefly froze some U.S. military aid to Egypt in 2013 but had it restored in 2015.
El-Sisi told Fox that Trump had "promised to support Egypt ... and I trust his promise."
When asked by Baier about his perception as a strongman, el-Sisi pointed out that Egypt has "93 million [people] in a region that is very unstable ... [with] ideas and elements that are extremist living in our society."
El-Sisi and his supporters have criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the uprising in Egypt six years ago. They believe American complacency led to a stronger presence by the Muslim Brotherhood.
El-Sisi and Trump met for the first time in September. Since then, Trump has called the Egyptian leader “a fantastic guy” and said there was “good chemistry” between them. El-Sisi was the first foreign leader to congratulate Trump on his White House win.
Like Trump, el-Sisi is a polarizing figure in his country. However, the Egyptian leader denied that he had dictatorial ambitions.
"[I] have four years, and if the people accept me, maybe four more, and there’s no third chance," he told Baier. "There is true change in Egypt and the Egyptian people will not accept to have a president against their will."