WASHINGTON (Rahnuma): The Trump administration is working to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, the White House said on Tuesday, which would bring sanctions against the outlawed Egyptian group.
“The president has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi asked President Donald Trump to make the designation, which Egypt has already done, in a private meeting during a visit to Washington on April 9, a senior US official said, confirming a report in the New York Times on Tuesday.
After the meeting, Trump praised El-Sisi as a “great president” while a bipartisan group of US lawmakers raised concerns about Sisi’s record on human rights, efforts to keep him in office for many years and planned Russian arms purchases.
El-Sisi ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after vast protests against his divisive rule. El-Sisi was elected president the following year and has overseen a crackdown on the Brotherhood and a security operation against extremists linked to the group.
White House national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo support the designation but officials at the Pentagon and elsewhere have been opposed and have been seeking more limited action, the senior official said.
The Brotherhood has also been designated a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist designation could complicate Washington’s relationship with NATO ally Turkey. The organization has close ties with President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and many of its members fled to Turkey after the group’s activities were banned in Egypt.
The US administration debated the terrorist designation for the Muslim Brotherhood shortly after Trump took office in January 2017.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al-Qaeda, was once a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.