Egypt has agreed to buy 30 Rafale fighter jets from France in a transaction valued at $4.5 billion, according to the investigative website Disclose. Egypt’s defense ministry announced the agreement in a statement issued early Tuesday.
President Emmanuel Macron said in December that he would not condition the selling of arms to Egypt on a pledge to uphold human rights because he did not want to undermine Cairo’s ability to fight regional aggression.
Egypt’s defense ministry stated that the deal would be funded by a loan that would be repaid over a period of at least ten years, but provided no specifics about the value of the deal or any other information.
According to Disclose, an agreement was reached at the end of April and could be signed on Tuesday when an Egyptian delegation arrives in Paris.
This agreement will be a further boost for the Dassault-made fighter jet, following a $3.01 billion agreement in January for the sale of 18 Rafales jets to Greece.
Qatar and India have both signed agreements with France, making the plane one of the country’s most significant defense industry achievements.
The Egyptian agreement reportedly includes contracts worth $241 million for missile maker MBDA and equipment supplier Safran Electronics & Defense.
France’s finance, overseas, and armed forces ministries did not respond immediately.
Encouraging ruthless repression
Between 2013 and 2017, France was Egypt’s primary arms supplier, selling 24 warplanes with an option for 12 more.
Those contracts, however, have dried up, including deals for additional Rafale jets and warships that were in the works.
Diplomats said this was due to funding worries about Cairo’s long-term ability to repay state-backed guaranteed loans, rather than any concerns Paris had about Egypt’s human rights situation.
Human Rights Watch’s France editor, Benedicte Jeannerod, flatly criticized the agreement.
“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 undertakes extremely serious violations under the pretext of the fight against terrorism, France is only encouraging this ruthless repression,” Jeannerod told the Reuters news agency.
According to Disclose, the French government would guarantee up to 85 percent of the funding for the contract, with BNP Paribas SA, Credit Agricole, Societe Generale, and CIC, which financed the original deal, signing on again. The banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Concerned about the political vacuum in Libya, regional turmoil, and the danger posed by armed groups in Egypt, both countries have strengthened economic and military relations since el-election. Sisi’s
Human rights groups have accused Macron of turning a blind eye to el-growing Sisi’s government’s abuses of human rights.
According to French officials, Paris has a policy of not publicly criticizing countries on human rights issues in order to be more successful in private on a case-by-case basis.
While Egypt has around $125 billion external debt, its military leader buys more weapons for nothing but his enhancing his image, prestige, and appeasing western allies.— Dr.Khalil al-ِِAnani د. خليل العناني (@Khalilalanani) May 3, 2021
France to sell Egypt 30 fighter jets in $4.5 bln deal -report https://t.co/JVHZ21zqmd
The agreement also came in the aftermath of el-highly Sisi’s controversial state visit to Paris in December, which was hosted by Macron.
Egypt and France have grown closer under the secular rule of former army general el-Sisi, with mutual interests in the Middle East and a shared mistrust of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
During the tour, Macron bestowed France’s highest honor, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, on el-Sisi.
This infuriated activists who had requested him not to roll out the red carpet, but rather to raise questions about the estimated 60,000 political prisoners imprisoned in Egyptian prisons.
The French president also ruled out making France’s strengthening defense and trade relations with Egypt contingent on the question of human rights.
“I think it is more effective to have a policy of dialogue than a policy of boycott which would reduce the effectiveness of one of our partners in the fight against terrorism and for regional stability,” Macron said.