President Donald Trump is seeking to blacklist the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, a far-reaching step that would place the United States firmly on the side of its authoritarian allies in the Middle East. Sisi has already designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist 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", Sanders said.
Importantly, though, The Wall Street Journal reports that it is not "immediately known whether the Trump administration's designation would apply only to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, or to the set of Islamist movements across the world that are informally referred to as the Muslim Brotherhood". One option would be to designate another group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization, which will ultimately subject it to harsh sanctions.
Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which generally backs hawkish policies in the Middle East, doubted that the whole Muslim Brotherhood could be declared a terrorist group under normal processes.
The NY Times said hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed the move, but the Pentagon, national security staff, government lawyers, military officials and diplomatic advisers are objecting to the change in policy. Its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a vocal supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.
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Sisi, who ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 and was elected president the following year, has overseen a crackdown on radical Islamic terrorists, as well as liberal opposition in Egypt.
Daniel Benjamin, former State Department coordinator for counterterrorism who now teaches at Dartmouth College, called the move mystifying.
Daniel Benjamin, former counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department, said the department looked into designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in 2017 and 2018 and concluded that there was no legal basis for a designation.
Jason Blazakis, a former State Department official who oversaw the FTO designation process, voiced concern that US right-wing groups would be encouraged to call for legal action against domestic Muslim advocacy organizations.
Formally designating the Brotherhood could also worsen the USA relationship with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey.