France agrees sale of war planes to Egypt

    The French government is selling 30 Dassault Rafale fighter jets as well as military electronics to the government of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

    The Egyptian Defense Ministry confirmed the deal in a post on Twitter Monday.

    Similar large-scale military contracts with Egypt fell through in the past apparently more over concerns about Egypt’s ability to pay for the equipment rather than concerns over its human rights record.

    Originally reported by the French online news site Disclose, the €3.75 billion ($4.5 billion) deal was apparently completed in late April and could be signed when an Egyptian delegation arrives in the French capital on Tuesday.

    Disclose says this time around 85% of loans linked to the deal will be guaranteed by the French state as well as banks BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and CIC. 

    The French stance on human rights in Egypt

    The news was decried by human rights advocates.

    Benedicte Jeannerod, the director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) France said: “By signing a mega-arms contract with el-Sissi’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 undertakes extremely serious violations under the pretext of the fight against terrorism, France is only encouraging this ruthless repression.”

    French President Emmanuel Macron angered rights advocates last year by rolling out the red carpet for el-Sissi rather than raising the issue of an estimated 60,000 political prisoners in the country. Macron awarded the Egyptian president the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor.

    Moreover, Macron said he would not make the sale of military equipment contingent upon human rights. He argued that doing so would tie el-Sissi’s hands in the fight against regional terrorism, especially in neighboring Libya and against jihadist groups in Egypt itself.

    French arms exports around the world

    Egypt was the first country to buy the new Rafale jet back in 2015 — when it ordered 24 of them. It is one of France’s biggest defense customers.

    The additional sale of equipment from missile manufacturer MBDA and Safran Electronics and Defense are said to be worth another €200 million.

    The fighter jets deal follows a €2.5 billion sale to Greece in January.

    The Rafale jet, which has also been sold to India and Qatar, is one of France’s most successful defense export items.

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