World

Egypt buys Rafale fighter jets worth $ 4.5 billion from France

Human Rights Watch condemns the agreement, saying Paris only encourages “ruthless repression” in Egypt under President el-Sisi.

Egypt signed a contract with France to buy 30 Rafale fighter jets in a deal that the investigation site Disclose said was worth $ 4.5 billion. Egypt’s defense ministry disclosed the deal in a statement Tuesday morning.

President Emmanuel Macron said in December that he would not make the sale of arms to Egypt conditional on a commitment to respect human rights because he did not want to weaken Cairo’s ability to fight violence. In the region.

Egypt’s defense ministry said the deal would be funded by a loan to be repaid over at least 10 years, but did not give details on the value of the deal or any other information.

Citing confidential documents, Disclose said a deal was reached in late April and could be sealed on Tuesday when an Egyptian delegation arrives in Paris.

The deal would be another boost for the Dassault-made fighter jet after a $ 3.01 billion deal was finalized in January for the sale of 18 Rafales jets to Greece.

Qatar and India have also signed agreements with France, making the aircraft one of the major successes in the country’s defense industry.

The Egyptian deal would also cover contracts for missile maker MBDA and equipment supplier Safran Electronics & Defense, worth an additional $ 241 million.

French ministries of finance, foreign affairs and armed forces were not immediately available for comment.

Encourage ruthless repression

France was Egypt’s main arms supplier between 2013 and 2017, including selling 24 fighter jets with an option for 12 more.

Those contracts have dried up, however, including agreements that were at an advanced stage for more Rafale jets and warships.

Diplomats said it had as much to do with funding issues as fears about Cairo’s long-term ability to repay state-guaranteed loans, rather than Paris’s concerns about the human rights situation. man in Egypt.

Benedicte Jeannerod, director of Human Rights Watch for France, outright condemned the agreement.

The deal came following an extremely controversial state visit to Paris by Egyptian El-Sisi in December hosted by Macron [File: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters]

“By signing a mega-arms contract with [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-] Sisi’s government while the latter presides over the worst repression in decades in Egypt, the eradication of the human rights community in the country and commits extremely serious violations under the pretext of the fight against terrorism, the France is only encouraging this ruthless repression, ”Jeannerod said. Reuters news agency.

Disclose said funding for the transaction would be up to 85% guaranteed by the French state with BNP Paribas SA, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and CIC, which funded the original deal, signing again. Banks were not immediately available for comment.

Concerned about the political vacuum in Libya, instability in the region and the threat of armed groups in Egypt, the two countries have cultivated closer economic and military ties since al-Sisi came to power.

Human rights organizations have accused Macron of turning a blind eye to what they say are increasing violations of freedoms by the al-Sisi government.

French officials say Paris follows a policy of not openly criticizing countries on human rights in order to be more effective in private on a case-by-case basis.

The deal also came following an extremely controversial state visit to Paris by el-Sisi in December organized by Macron.

Egypt and France have increasingly close relations under the secular regime of former Army General el-Sisi, with common interests in the Middle East and a common suspicion of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Macron decorated el-Sissi with the highest distinction in France, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, during the visit.

This angered activists who asked him not to roll out the red carpet, but rather to raise concerns about the some 60,000 political prisoners languishing in Egyptian jails.

The French president also ruled out subordinating the deepening of France’s defense and trade relations with Egypt to the question of rights.

“I think it is more effective to have a policy of dialogue than a boycott policy which would reduce the effectiveness of one of our partners in the fight against terrorism and for regional stability,” Macron said. .




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