Trump has been better than Obama on Middle East policy, says Egyptian billionaire Sawiris

  • It's "definitely President Trump," instead of Obama, who has gotten it right in handling U.S. foreign policy, according to Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris.
  • Sawiris said he's not opposed to Trump's decision to order a military strike on Syria, while also saying there's no end in sight to the war.

Between Barack Obama and Donald Trump, it's "definitely President Trump" who got U.S. foreign policy right in the Middle East, according to Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris.

"I think what we're seeing today is the product of Obama's rule," Sawiris told CNBC's Hadley Gamble in Abu Dhabi on Monday. He claimed that Russia gained ground in Syria as a result of inaction by the Obama administration, which also allowed extremists in the Middle East to thrive.

"I'm not saying you should police the world, but you can't let evil strive and say, 'It's none of my business.' So I believe President Trump is on the right track," he said.

The Obama administration in 2012 threatened to retaliate if Syria's Bashar Assad used chemical weapons in that country's civil war. The following year, Assad's government killed hundreds of civilians in the town of Ghouta with chemical weapons, but the United States did not respond with military force.

Trump likes to blame the Obama administration for the rise of ISIS and take credit for that group's decline, though ISIS began its rise during the administration of George W. Bush and started to lose ground militarily thanks largely to the Obama administration's support of Kurds fighting the terror group.

President Barak Obama (R) and President-elect Donald Trump smile at the White House before the inauguration on January 20, 2017
Kevin Dietsch-Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images
President Barak Obama (R) and President-elect Donald Trump smile at the White House before the inauguration on January 20, 2017

Sawiris earlier said he's not opposed to Trump's decision to order a military strike on Syria, while also saying there's no end in sight to the war.

With the war continuing even after ISIS has been largely wiped out, Sawiris said he favors gold as a safe investment.

Sawiris, who built a net worth of $4.2 billion mainly in the telecommunications industry, said he prefers investing in democracies, so he can avoid being at the mercy of political rulers.

One exception he has made is North Korea, in which Sawiris has about $250 million in investments. His company, Orascom Telecom, holds the sole telecommunications license in North Korea.

"I always think you should punish regimes but not the people of the regime," he said. "And from an investment perspective, there's also a lot of sense in there. When they, North Korea and South Korea, unite or come to an agreement, my assets there would be worth billions."

Disclosure: NBC Universal is a minority stakeholder in Euronews, which is majority-held by Naguib Sawiris.