Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Timothy M. Gill

Committee Members

Harry F. Dahms, Asafa Jalata


In 2011, Egypt became the epicenter of a regional wave of uprisings demanding an end to corruption, inequality, and undemocratic governance. The Egyptian revolution marked the hopeful beginning of a democratization process. However, in 2013 a military coup by General Abdel Fatah El-Sisi deposed the elected president and ended Egypt’s democratic experiment (DeSmet 2021). Despite the deterioration in U.S.-Egypt relations during the Obama administration and the erosion of political freedoms and economic stability over the last decade, the Trump administration enthusiastically embraced El-Sisi’s regime. Did Trump's claim that El-Sisi was his “favorite dictator” signal a profound shift in American policy? In this case study of American foreign policy in Egypt during the Trump administration, I argue that the United States has pursued a strategy of democracy prevention to secure American interests and incorporate Egypt into a regional neoliberal order. Trump maintained the imperial approach of his predecessors by deepening security ties with the Egyptian military, accelerating the securitization of foreign aid, and outsourcing imperialism to the IMF and the Gulf. Nevertheless, Trump’s America First foreign policy departed from past presidents by promoting Sisi’s authoritarianism, rejecting democracy promotion and soft power, and aggressively deterring Egypt from aligning with American rivals. I assert that the Trump administration’s foreign policy strategy responded to declining American influence in the Middle East and North Africa. America First foreign policy was an aggressive but contradictory and limited strategy to sustain American dominance in a region characterized by increasing multipolarity.

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