Egyptian responses to the change of presidents in the US

Sent On: 
Thu, 2021-01-21
Newsletter Number: 

Former US President Donald Trump leaves the White House

Source: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images


The Trump era has finished. President Joe Biden has been inaugurated as the 46th president of the USA. Prominent Egyptian thinker Dr. Tarek Heggy [Ṭāriq Ḥijjī] and friend of the Arab-West Report wrote in an email that he was pleased to see former vice-president Mike Pence participate in the ceremony. “Trump’s absence/boycott was a DISGRACE that will continue to condemn him for decades/centuries. It is a conduct of someone who might look to be a strong man, while deep inside him are gigantic weaknesses” (capitals by Ḥijjī).


Several Arab governments, specifically in the Gulf, are having a tough time dealing with the results of the American presidential elections as their favored candidate, Donald Trump, lost to Joe Biden, whose policies are expected to be more critical towards them.


ʿAbd Allāh al-Ashʿal, the former aid to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that Biden’s victory might mean crises for relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE regarding human rights.


Egyptians have been following the American elections this year with unprecedented interest. Some of them are against Donald Trump since he declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and moved the American embassy there.  Others are against Joe Biden because they believe that he will impose the Muslim Brotherhood on Egypt and bring them back to the country that overthrew them. I personally do not fully agree with this perception.


Many leading Egyptians believe that Barack Obama’s policies towards Egypt were bad because he was ready to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood after they had won the 2011/2012 Parliamentary elections and half a year later Mohamed Morsi [Muḥammad Mursī] came to power. Ḥijjī reflects the opinion of many Egyptians that “Trump was much better for Egypt than his predecessor.” See also our lengthy interview with an Egyptian Ambassador in function.


Many Egyptians compared Trump on twitter to Muḥammad Mursī, the Muslim Brotherhood president in 2012-2013, whose followers laid siege on the Supreme Court since it did not issue the verdicts they wanted. Mursī placed himself above the law and ruled by decree, much in line how Donald Trump tried to rule the USA. It is only thanks to the strength of the democratic institutions in the USA that made it impossible for Trump to stay in power after the lost elections. Even though their system was under tremendous pressure, it did not fail the people. Although whichever way the election had gone there would always be extreme ideologists who would disagree with that.


Ḥijjī comments that many of Trump's policies have been good but “his character is aggressive, rude, unsophisticated, ​​and even degrading -- he is the one who has offended himself the most.” Joe Biden has a very sophisticated character, Ḥijjī says, but “his policies towards Egypt are difficult to predict.  They may not be a mirror image of Obama's policies but will not be positive towards Egypt.” But if Biden's policies towards Egypt would be negative their impact would be very limited, Ḥijjī believes. “Egypt today is not the country under the orders of the United States as it was under Hosni Mubarak [Ḥusnī Mubārak].” Trump has left behind a deeply divided America which “will have consequences that are difficult for any thinker or political analyst to accurately predict.”


The damage that Donald Trump has done to democracy in the world is huge. The US prides itself to be the oldest democracy in the world but it is not flawless. Despite all evidence that Joe Biden had won the popular vote and the vote in the electoral college Donald Trump continued his unprecedented refusal to concede. No US president has ever refused to concede defeat once all the votes were counted and legal challenges resolved. Trump’s refusal, however, fits well in the traditions of weak democracies. Democracies only can survive if they have strong institutions. The US, fortunately, has such strong institutions.


AWR intern Dina Abdulrahman wrote about Middle Eastern responses to the difficult transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden and quotes Egyptian writer Khaled Mansour [Khālid Manṣūr]. People who entered Congress are either barbarians or “they do not deserve to be granted the right to choose their representatives and they are not ready for democracy.” This is a justification for dictators “who know our best interests and who tell us what to do and how to act, and thus also justify the security grip and end tyranny."


Trump’s refusal to concede and calling his supporters to the Capitol with lies and propaganda is sadly a blow to democracy worldwide. President Joe Biden will have a huge task to restore trust in democracy.



Cairo, January 21, 2021


Cornelis Hulsman,

Editor-in-Chief Arab-West Report



Links to references in Arab-West Report: