President Donald Trump is considering placing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, the White House said Tuesday.
“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 wrote in an email.
Naming Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement a foreign terrorist organization would allow Washington to impose sanctions on any individual or group with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The announcement comes three weeks after Trump hosted his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Washington, praising him as a “great president” and asserting that U.S.-Egypt relations had never been stronger.
At the same time, many U.S. lawmakers, international politicians and rights groups have criticized Sissi for human rights abuses in the country, and, most recently, for the passing of a controversial referendum extending presidential terms which could allow him to rule until 2030.
Organized opposition to the referendum in Egypt was almost nonexistent, with many leading public figures, businesses and media houses firmly in league with the current government.
The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed in the country in 2013 when current general-turned-president Sissi ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected civilian president. Since then, Sissi has overseen a crackdown on both liberal and Islamist opposition in his country, jailing thousands of supporters and much of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.